by Blythe Lawrence
In his triumph against the Swedish star at the quarter-final stage, both Franziska, who has yet to win an ITTF World Tour title and Falck gave a showcase of European table tennis at the highest level. It was fitting at a tournament that has seen some of the greatest in the game, including Fan and women’s World no.1 Chen Meng, upset by more unassuming challengers.
The turn of events took even the 27 year old Franziska by surprise. In Friday’s round of 16, he relegated Fan to the stands with a 4-2 upset victory despite losing the first two games (8-11, 7-11, 11-4, 11-9, 11-4, 11-7), a big moment for a man who has seen ITTF World Tour men’s singles semi-final action only twice in his senior career.
“Finally, my first triumph against a top Chinese player. I’m speechless. I certainly played one of my best matches ever, but the tournament is not over.” Patrick Franziska
It certainly wasn’t. If Friday was the surprise, Saturday’s match against Falck confirmed the quality of the German. Falck, the no. 8 seed, lost the first game but recovered well, taking full advantage of his opportunities to increase his lead to 3-1.
“I felt he was everywhere, I had no idea what to do anymore.” Patrick Franziska
What he did have was reserves of energy and steely determination. Point by point, he methodically turned the tables on Falck to take the next three games in one of the grittiest matches of play down under, eventually securing an epic 4-3 win (11-6, 10-12, 9-11, 3-11, 12-10, 11-8, 11-9).
“[Falck] played fantastic. I just said, ‘I’ll risk it all.’ I know I have nothing to lose anymore…I have no idea how I did it. Some good balls, some lucky shots. I’m extremely happy that I’m through.” Patrick Franziska
Waiting in the wings is a monumental challenge: XuXin, who will battle Franziska for the right to play either Wang Chuqin or Ma Long in the final. It’s a lofty challenge for the German, but one that he can aboard with confidence, knowing that in Oz, he is the one capable of shaking up the status quo.