by Ian Marshall, Editor
At the final hurdle, Timo Boll, the top seed, beat Jonathan Groth, the no.10 seed (6-11, 12-10, 12-14, 11-9, 11-6, 11-4), after having in the penultimate round ousted Tomislav Pucar (11-4, 11-9, 11-5, 10-12, 11-4).
“Physically I was not 100 per cent fit; mentally and tactically everything was perfect. It was a strange match because I had to change my style; I had to play very passive, very slow. It was a good schooling for the future; I might change some things in my game and add some new weapons. However, today it worked. It was also important that I could try something different that will work my way. Groth has the game to beat me, he already did it in the semi-final of the Champions League and do not forget he beat Ovtcharov in the round of 16, so he is in very good shape here. I had a cramp this morning, so I was a little bit worried. We have a good medical team here and I hope I will manage until the end. It is very hard tournament.” Timo Boll
“He proved once again that he could change his style in the middle of a match and win. He is a true champion. I started better, won opening game and went ahead 9-4 in second. Then, Timo changed his service game. I could not find the answers for his service anymore.” Jonathan Groth
Defeat for Tomislav Pucar but in the bronze medal match it was success, he accounted for Ukraine’s Kou Lei, the no.33 seed (11-2, 9-11, 11-9, 11-7, 11-2).
“Both of us were very tired; that is why the key points were on the service and return game. In that department I was much better. We could not rely on long rallies. I am so happy I will play in my first Olympic Games. I was at the Youth Olympic Games but this is ultimate dream in our sport.” Tomislav Pucar
One round earlier, Kou Lei had experienced defeat at the hands of Jonathan Groth (13-11, 11-5, 11-5, 12-10).
Success for Timo Boll, followed success for Fu Yu, the no.8 seed in the women’s singles event. After overcoming Luxembourg’s Ni Xia Lian, the no.15 seed, at the semi-final stage (11-6, 11-5, 5-11, 6-11, 11-6, 11-8), she secured the title at the expense of Han Ying, the no.13 seed (11-5, 11-8, 9-11, 9-11, 11-6, 11-7).
“I was calm. We have played against each other five or six times before and I knew what to do. Previously I rushed into mistakes, now I did not let it happen. I waited for her errors. I am so happy I reach the Olympics again.”
Disappointment for Han Ying, who at the semi-final stage had emerged successful by the very narrowest of margins when facing Monaco’s Yang Xiaoxin, the no.25 seed (7-11, 11-9, 11-8, 12-10, 8-11, 9-11, 11-9).
“It is hard when you lose the final match but in a week or two I am sure I will be happy for the medal and the place at the Olympic Games. If only this match could have been played tomorrow; I was so tired after the semi-final against Yang Xiaoxin. It was a very hard match and my legs were shaky in the final. I was tired and could not play at my best.” Han Ying
Gold for Fu Yu, silver for Han Ying, it was bronze for Ni Xia Lian; she beat Yang Xiaoxin, the no.25 seed (11-3, 3-11, 10-12, 11-7, 11-7, 11-8) in the third place contest.
“It was never as important as it was today. In 2004, I was in the top eight in the world; it came easy that time. However, now I have to fight very hard; if today I had not succeeded I don’t think there is any other way I could have qualified. The system is so difficult; that is why I fought so hard. Today, when I lost third game against Yang Xiaoxin after being 10-6 up it hurt so much. Oh how it hurt! Yang is very dangerous. I had to study her game but even that sometimes did not help; that’s why I am so excited now.” Ni Xia Lian
Success for Ni Xia Lian, at 56 years of the most senior player in the tournament; her pen-hold blocking style of play once again proving most effective whilst being one that conserves energy.
“The key ingredient is love. I have a family who supports me and loves me. My 88 years old mother, two children, siblings, they all support; also I have Luxembourg Federation, Olympic Committee, all of them supporting me. They are all there for me and they support me. They are devoted to this sport, otherwise I could not succeed. Young generations work so hard and they are better and better; I only get older.” Ni Xia Lian
Attention now turns to the men’s team and women’s team events; play concludes in Minsk on Saturday 29th June.
Quotes of the Day
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Minsk 2019 2nd European Games: Quotes of the Day (Monday 24th June)
Minsk 2019 2nd European Games: Quotes of the Day (Tuesday 25th June)
Minsk 2019 2nd European Games: Quotes of the Day (Wednesday 26th June)
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