by Ian Marshall, Editor
The win was as status advised; but make no mistake, Portugal provided stiff opposition. In fact, did they not start proceedings as one of the favourites to gain a Tokyo place?
They were led by Fu Yu, some six months ago gold medallist at the 2019 European Games in Minsk and thus assured a place in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games; she was supported by Shao Jieni, the winner in November at the 2019 ITTF Challenge Indonesia Open and Luo Xue.
Styles not favoured by Europeans
Furthermore, both Fu Yu and Luo Xue are pen-holders, both experts in blocking fearsome attacking strokes, a style which over the years has caused European players a host of heartaches.
Notably, in the Hungarian team, Maria Fazekas, who played in the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, was included alongside Dora Madarasz and Szandra Pergel; it was Dora Madarasz who emerged the star of the show. There was no Georgina Pota, their leading player.
After Maria Fazekas and Szandra Pergel had beaten Luo Xue and Shao Jieni (11-7, 6-11, 11-8, 11-4) to give Hungary the ideal start; Dora Madarasz doubled the advantage. She beat Fu Yu (5-11, 15-13, 11-7, 11-5), before accounting for Luo Xue (8-11, 11-6, 8-11, 11-6, 11-7) to bring matters to a conclusion.
Immediately preceding Shao Jieni had raised Portuguese hopes by overcoming Szandra Pergel (11-8, 11-6, 11-13, 11-8).
The performance extolled by Dora Madarasz was one of excellence in the art of balance and consistent top spin play. Against pen-hold grip players who thrive on receiving fast attacking strokes, blocking, creating angles and turning to their advantage, Dora Madarasz proved supreme.
Often we look at Chinese female players with their delightful movement and balance, in Gondomar Dora Madarasz was in that vein.
Moreover, she maintained her composure, especially as the avowed goal approached, when facing Luo Xue, a player who was undoubtedly feeling pressure of the occasion.
In the vital fifth game, Dora Madarasz established a 4-1 lead, Luo Xue called “time out” but with advice from Zoltan Batorfi, it was the Hungarian that seized the next two points.
“Honestly I still can’t believe we could qualify, it’s just amazing; when the draw came out it was one of the worst draws, Portugal. We tried our best and after the doubles I felt a little bit better, we were leading. It’s like a miracle, I still can’t believe. We won this qualification without Pota and thanks to her we were seeded number seven. In the last match in the second game I was up 8-3, or something and I lost my concentration, I tried to focus on my receive. I didn’t want to think about the Olympics, I just wanted to win and I did it! In the last game, 10-7 I thought, ok this is the match ball for the Olympics.” Dora Madarasz
Luo Xue reduced the deficit to two points in arrears at 9-7, it was at that stage the quality of Dora Maradarsz blossomed; she showed no hint of panic, she played for long points, top spin after top spin until success.
The final point secured, she sank to her knees, suddenly engulfed by her colleagues in floods of tears, none more so that Maria Fazekas.
Portugal now plays for ninth place.