by Simon Daish
Meeting in the men’s singles knock-out 2 final, Majoros and Lambiet, seeded 15th and 32nd respectively, needed no further inspiration with the winner claiming their ticket to the Japanese capital. Off to a thunderous start, Majoros built momentum with every passing game and even when signs of a Lambiet response did begin to emerge the Hungarian refused to let up. Arms in the air and a loud roar following the final point, Majoros can now rest easy knowing his place on the Olympic Games stage is assured.
“It’s a dream come true. Before I came here, it was a difficult period, because I was injured and couldn’t practise a lot and my start at the Middle East Hub and this event was really in danger. But I was just very happy that I was able to play and control my emotions. I was just really focused.” Bence Majoros
Lubomir Jancarik has also won the right to represent his country in Tokyo following another rousing performance from the Czech Republic player in the knock-out 1 final.
Seeded 30th for the draw, Jancarik came up against a man seeded 18 positions higher in Ukraine’s Kou Lei but wasn’t at all fazed by the prospect. Game two proved the most dramatic of the tie as Kou successfully saved five game points before going on to hold one of his own which, if he had taken, could have swung the advantage in his favour. But Jancarik kept his cool, going on to rescue the game and never looked back from that moment on (11-5, 14-12, 11-9, 11-6).
The third final of the morning session saw two of the European continent’s finest defenders go head-to-head as Slovakia’s Wang Yang, no.6 seed, stood opposite Greek no.10 seed Panagiotis Gionis in the knock-out 3 final.
An intriguing encounter in many respects, it was Gionis who made the brighter start to the match and in some style too, securing the opening game by a commanding eight point margin. However, the 41-year-old failed to build on his early momentum as Wang began to find his footing, winning three of the next four games to ramp up the heat on his opponent. Gionis sensed a change in approach was necessary, upping the pace a little in search of an opening but Wang was ready to deal with whatever came his way and would not be stopped (3-11, 11-5, 11-9, 6-11, 11-6, 11-7)!
Bence Majoros, Lubomir Jancarik and Wang Yang have all done enough to seal qualification in Doha – as for the three defeated finalists, they will have to go again in the second knock-out stage as the stakes rise further still.