by Ian Marshall, Editor
Playing at a quite breathtaking level, the backhand top spin strokes at times making you blink in wonder, Zhou Qihao secured the first two games, before Dimitrij Ovtcharov mounted a reply; in the third game he establish a 10-8 lead. A crucial stage of the contest, he called “Time Out”, duly won the next point, the match arrears were reduced to one.
Wise words from Jörg Rosskopf, the German national team coach, in the next game it was wise words from Liu Guozheng. Zhou Qihao led 7-6, a “Time Out” called, the vital advantage was maintained, the game was secured, the two game advantage restored.
Now increasingly confident, playing at top speed, the footwork and movement a pleasure to behold, Zhou Qihao established a 5-3 lead in the fifth game, it was a lead he protected and extended. At 10-5, he held five match points; he converted at the second attempt.
“I never thought that I could go so far in this tournament. It feels really good; when I started in the qualification I was really nervous. In the fifth game when I led 10-5, Ovtcharov had a dead net ball. I told myself not to let it worry me and just play as normal. It’s good to win, Ovtcharov is more famous than me; I just keep trying my best.” Zhou Qihao
Success for Zhou Qihao was followed by success for Xu Xin, true to his tradition he lost the opening game, before moving through the gears. He secured the next three games, established a 3-0 lead in the fifth, Jang Woojin elected for “Time Out” but it was to no avail, at 10-2, Xu Xin held eight match points. Jang Woojin won the next three points, Chinese National Team coach, sitting courtside, called “Time Out”. Xu Xin returned, a long raking forehand ended matters
“Now I have a chance to win the tournament in two consecutive years, after Wang Liqin and Fan Zhendong; I will try my best.” Xu Xin
Not wishing to disagree with Xu Xin but before the ITTF World Tour commenced, the host nation’s Kjell Johansson won in 1971 and 1972; representing the country known as Yugoslavia, Dragutin Surbek succeeded in 1973 and 1974. Agreed Wang Liqin won consecutively in 2001 and 2003 (no tournament was held in 2002), Fan Zhendong in 2014 and 2015
Xu Xin now meets Zhou Qihao at the semi-final stage; the match to be held later in the evening.