by Ian Marshall, Editor
Fan Zhendong made a lightning start; he dominated the opening game; true to his style, his counter top spin ability was very much to the fore against a player who also excels in that art.
Earlier in the group stage and opening round, Vladimir Samsonov had been able to control proceedings at the crucial stages; it was not until the third game that he adapted to the unerring play of his adversary. Level at 3-all and at 6-all but he was never able to establish a meaningful lead.
Success for Fan Zhendong by the minimal two point margin; now confident, he blossomed; he dominated the fourth game, the penultimate round place was booked.
“I had to control the match and concentrate at all times. Vladimir is a top player and it’s always a pleasure to play against him. He has excellent tactics, so I always have to respect him.” Fan Zhendong
Notably, it was the third time when Fan Zhendong and Vladimir Samsonov had met in the international arena; it was the third time that Fan Zhendong had won. Previously he had succeeded on the ITTF World Tour in Germany in 2013 and three years later when they had confronted each other in Qatar.