02 May 2020

Lockdown in many countries owing to COVID-19 but in Austria there is a light at the end of the tunnel, a bright shining light; the cameras of ORF, the national broadcaster.

On Saturday 2nd May, commencing at 8.05 pm (local time), the “Top of Austria Challenge” will be televised live.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Staged in the TV Center of Austrian national broadcaster ORF, Stefan Fegerl will play Daniel Habesohn, as Karoline Mischek confronts Liu Jia in matches decided by best of three games.

Click here for the livestream.

Under the guidance of Werner Thury, the Referee appointed for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, best of three games matches; they are intriguing contests in their own right but there is an added dimension.

The winners and losers will meet in best of five games encounters and in each game the woman will receive a six point start!

Stefan Fegerl has a debt to settle (Photo: Rémy Gros)


Extra spice

Equally, there is a degree of spice. Earlier this year Stefan Fegerl was beaten in the final of the men’s singles event at the Austrian National Championships by Daniel Habesohn, a player who excelled some five months ago at the Chengdu Airlines 2019 Men’s World Cup.

Notably, after losing to Germany’s Dimitrij Ovtcharov, he beat Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus to book his place in the main draw where the eventual champion, China’s Fan Zhendong, ended progress.

It was quite outstanding performance on debut but if there is one player who is used to competing in such a competition, Liu Jia, the 2005 European champion, beats the lot! She has competed in the Women’s World Cup on no less than 13 occasions, more than any other player!

Facing Karoline Mischek, it is a battle of the generations; Mischek is just 21 years old, Liu Jia 38 years of age.

Liu Jia, more appearances in the Women’s World Cup than any other player (Photo: Rémy Gros)


Time to reminisce

Also present but not in the arena will be Werner Schlager, he will be in the commentary box alongside Michael Roscher. Undoubtedly it will not only present an opportunity to evaluate play as it unfolds but also to look back to 2003 in Paris, the day when Werner Schlager won the men’s singles title at the Liebherr World Championships. Significantly, he is the most recent non-Chinese player to achieve the feat.

Cheering ever success on that historic occasion, with Austrian scarf as always draped around his neck, was Hans Friedinger, now president of the national federation. Understandably he is delighted with the present day initiative.

“I am very happy and grateful that, in co-operation with ORF, we have managed to organise this event during this brutal coronavirus crisis. I think this live challenge is now a real European opener; this is an important and valuable sign of life for our sport. We will of course meet all necessary safety requirements in order to be able to present table tennis and the best players in Austria.” Hans Friedinger.

The transmission is scheduled to conclude at 10.30 pm (local time).

Werner Schlager on his way to becoming world champion in 2003 in Paris (Photo: Mariann Domonkos)


General News Sofia Polcanova Daniel Habesohn Liu Jia Stefan Fegerl Werner Schlager