by Ian Marshall, Editor
However, such a feat has been achieved; at the CTS ITTF Pro Tour Grand Finals, staged in Hong Kong in 1997, Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus overcame the then elite of China to arrest the title.
In the age of matches best of five games, each game to 21 points, change of service after five points, he beat Ma Lin (18-21, 23-21, 18-21, 21-12, 21-17) and Liu Guoliang (21-19, 21-7, 21-11), followed by success against Croatia’s Zoran Primorac (23-21, 12-21, 21-17, 22-20) to book his place in the final where he overcame Wang Liqin (21-16, 21-14, 14-21, 21-17).
Sounds quite straightforward but in that tournament he experienced both a dilemma and a major motivating factor; the motivating factor was that having beaten Zoran Primorac, he knew that when the World Ranking list was produced for January 1998, his name would be at the very top of the list.
The dilemma was it was the first tournament to adopt “Time Out”; as tension mounted in the vital fourth game of the final against Wang Liqin, urged by German colleagues in the tribunes, at the time Vladimir Samsonov played for Borussia Düsseldorf, he admits to this day that he did not know whether to take the break.
He didn’t, he won.
Now a European player to repeat the feat of Vladimir Samsonov in Incheon and one after another beat the best China has on offer? Who better than Germany’s Timo Boll?
Earlier this year he stood at the top of the World Rankings, a good omen; also similar to Vladimir Samsonov 21 years ago, he currently plays for Borussia Düsseldorf. One more factor in his favour, remember the Liebherr 2005 Men’s World Cup in Liège; one after another he beat Wang Liqin, Ma Lin and Wang Hao win the title.
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