by Simon Daish
In an end-to-end battle featuring table tennis of the highest calibre it was difficult to predict in which direction the match would go and rather fittingly the outcome was decided by tiny margins with Petrissa Solja claiming games five and six by just two points to gain entry to the final (15-13, 4-11, 11-7, 3-11, 12-10, 11-9).
“I needed time to wake up. Polcanova made a much better start. It took time before I settled into a rhythm. However, I did not lose my self-confidence. I lost few easy points in second and fourth games. I could not put the ball on the table. Sofia played very aggressively; she did not give me much time. She is very quick. I played twice in the final, I know what to expect. The most important thing is think about it like about any other match.” Petrissa Solja
A close encounter in the top half of the draw and the other semi-final proved closer still as Romania’s Bernadette Szocs and Poland’s Natalia Partyka played out a dramatic seven game thriller.
To provide context, four of the opening six games were decided by no more than a two point margin with two of those games doing to the minimal margin. Two players deserving of positions in the final but only one could progress and a dominant performance in game seven ensured that Bernadette Szocs would appear in the gold medal contest for a second year running (11-8, 9-11, 11-8, 10-12, 14-12, 9-11, 11-2).
“I won the title in the same venue last year and that gave confidence even in the hardest moments of the match. I have played at the top level for the past three years and a lot of things have changed. I already played against Partyka five times. She was always better than me but in our last encounter at the World Team Championships I beat her. I have reached a new level now. Solja is a good friend. I am happy we will meet.” Bernadette Szocs
The bronze medal match is scheduled to take place at 2.15pm local time before the Women’s Singles event draws to a close with the final at 3.55pm.