25 Jan 2020

Good hands essential, a phrase repeated time and time again by those in the know, flexible wrists; that skill was amplified by Hungary’s Nandor Ecseki at the 2020 ITTF World Team Qualification Tournament in Gondomar on Saturday 25th January.

He proved pivotal to Hungary’s progress against the odds in the men’s event. The no.17 seeds, they recorded a 3-1 win against Great Britain, the no.7 seeds.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Hungary made the perfect start, Nandor Ecseki and Adam Szudi beat Paul Drinkhall and Sam Walker (11-9, 7-11, 11-5, 11-7), before Liam Pitchford levelled matters for Great Britain by overcoming Bence Majoros (13-11, 11-6, 11-9).

Parity, Adam Szudi beat Paul Drinkhall (11-6, 8-11, 11-9, 11-3), before Nandor Ecseki excelled all expectations to overcome Liam Pitchford (11-8, 6-11, 11-9, 11-8) to seal the victory. Presently Liam Pitchford is listed at no.22 on the men’s world rankings, Nandor Ecseki is named over 100 places lower at no.139; such was the level of the upset.

“For me, it’s still unbelievable that we could win. We were expecting that our doubles was strong and we could win the first match. Probably after that Pitchford would win two points. Also there is Drinkhall and Walker. It’s a strong team but we thought we had a chance to make a surprise and we could win.
I had to take a medical time out, after the second game against Pitchford. I had pain and it just got bigger and bigger until the end of the match. I started 1-6 in the third but I won the game and it changed everything.” Nandor Ecseki

Excelled over the table

Left handed, playing over the table; just as it is the forte of Chinese Taipei’s Lin Yun-Ju, it is the same with reference to Nandor Ecseki. In that department he excels, in doubles he is the architect.

Notably in the opening round the duo had set Hungary on the road to success against Belarus by beating Aliaksandr Khanin and Pavel Platonov (11-8, 12-14, 6-11, 12-10, 11-7); against Sweden in the next round they were soundly beaten by Kristian Karlsson and Jon Persson (11-9, 11-5, 11-7), facing Great Britain they were back to winning ways.

Invaluable asset

The benefit of a tried and trusted doubles partnership in a the Olympic Games system is invaluable; it is easier for the player who enters the first singles match for his team to be one-nil ahead as opposed to the opposite.

Nandor Ecseki and Adam Szudi form such a pair. At ITTF Challenge Series tournaments, in 2018 in Croatia, they won the men’s doubles; last year they were semi-finalists in Portugal and Serbia as well as on the ITTF World Tour on home soil in Olomouc and in Sweden.

Adam Szudi

Equally great credit must go to Adam Szudi; his win against Paul Drinkhall underlined his mental attributes, his composure.

“I’m very happy, I think I played one of the best matches in my life. The score was 1-1, so I knew this game would be very important. If I could win this game then it would be a big step to winning the match. So I just gave everything and really I’m happy.” Adam Szudi

A safe forehand top spin whenever possible directed towards his opponent’s backhand forced a passive reply on which he capitalised; a tactic that in the 1970s brought the likes of likes of Istvan Jonyer, Gabor Gergely and Tibor Klampar world titles. Adam Szudi trod in famous footsteps.

At the semi-final stage the Czech Republic now meets Hungary.

2020 ITTF World Team Qualification Event Adam Szudi Nandor Ecseki

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Day 5 - 2020 ITTF World Team Qualification Tournament

Match Highlights