12 Feb 2019

A fast moving world, times change but some things never change; in the sport of table tennis amongst a host of innovations, the current century has witnessed a new scoring system, the advent of the plastic ball and the umpteenth amendment to the service rule.

However, if we turn the clock back to the previous century, the manner in which Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus and Serbia’s Aleksandar Karakasevic played in those days seems no different to the present. Both appear on the entry list for forthcoming Seamaster 2019 ITTF Challenge Plus, Portugal Open in Lisbon which commences with qualification on Wednesday 13th February.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Vladimir Samsonov is the no.4 seed in the men’s singles event, Aleksandar Karakasevic must compete in the preliminary stages.

Moreover, Vladimir Samsonov is in form; at the recent CCB Europe Top 16 Cup in the Swiss city of Montreux, he came within a whisker of winning the men’s title. In the final against Dimitrij Ovtcharov, he held two match points in the deciding seventh game before experiencing defeat.

Watching the now 42 year old play in Montreux appeared little different than when half that age. Having celebrated his 21st birthday seven days before the 1997 World Championships commenced in Manchester, he experienced a similar fate but in a different manner to that witnessed in Montreux. He finished in runners up spot. He was beaten by the man who when in the mood was on a different planet to the rest of humanity, Sweden’s Jan-Ove Waldner was in the mood.

In Lisbon list the names to beat; those of Chinese players trip of the tongue; Liang Jingkun who won some two months ago in November at the Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Austrian Open is on duty, as are both Lin Gaoyuan and Wang Chuqin, finalists last month in Hungary.

Now turn the clock back to 1997 in Manchester and note the names Vladimir Samsonov beat at the latter stages to reach the final; the list included Chinese stars who were to become Olympic Games gold medallists and world champions. He accounted for Ma Lin, Wang Liqin, Ding Song and Kong Linghui, the reigning world champion at the time, to reserve his place in the title decider.

Equally note the performance of Aleksandar Karakasevic on that occasion; he caused a sensation in the fifth round of the men’s singles event; he beat China’s Liu Guoliang, at the time the reigning Olympic champion.

Now two decades later, the exquisite control both exercise of the table tennis ball is no different, in 1997 some of the greatest names the sport has ever known suffered at the hands of the European duo.

Lin Gaoyuan, Liang Jingkun and Wang Chqin beware!

Challenge Series 2019 Portugal Open Aleksandar Karakasevic Vadimir Samsonov

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Day 2 - Seamaster 2019 ITTF Challenge+ Portugal Open

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