Friday May 13th, 2011 was the witness of 4 epic matches that will be surely rememberd by us, TT fans, for a long long time.
Don't let the score fool you, Zhang Jike didn't swept with Joo Se Hyuk. In fact the Korean could have won 2 sets but being nervous and the extremely fantastic performance shown by Zhang Jike prevented him to take them away. Instead, the Chinese was merciless.
As said, Zhang's performance was incredible showing a tremendous amount of control, strength and mental skills to revert difficult situations. We all knew it, but today Zhang Jike officially positioned himself as an extremely serious candidate for the title.
Wang Liqin 4 - 1 Xu Xin
We said it yesterday, retirement has been a topic that's being mentioned to Wang Liqin a lot by the press, but he's still Wang Liqin. And that's means a lot. Wang Liqin left out the first male Chinese player: his team mate Xu Xin, who's got a better ranking and is an upcoming star while Wang Liqin is near the end of his career after having won everything, except for the Single's Olympics title.
The match was simply fantastic. Wang Liqin dominated during the most part of the fight, forcing Xu Xin to run into high risks and thus making some errors. Admitedly, Wang Liqin is not anymore the "machine" he was some years ago, but he's got the talent, the experience and the mental skills to advance even more on this WTTC and show the whole world that he's still one of the best players ever.
It's very sad to see Xu Xin off in the Round of 16, but he fell fighting. No matter what was the score, Xu Xin never gave up and fought for his option until the very last point, which is something that defines the great players. We are sure he'll be back with more determination and skills on the next WTTC, to show us he can also be a World Champion.
Timo Boll 4 - 2 Dimitrij Ovtcharov
The match between the 2 German friends was a very exciting one. First, they confirmed they are the best 2 German players, and second, Timo confirmed he's the best one by far.
The match started relatively easily for Timo, reclaiming for himself the first 2 sets. It looked like an easy one for the world's #2, but Dima thought different and he managed to got the following 2 sets leveling the score 2-2.
The Ukranian-born, was playing great Table Tennis, with very quick reactions and repeatedly shooting his deadly backhand topspin attack widely open to Timo's forehand side. But Timo read the match perfectly, and got the 5th set by 11-0. Yes, you read that well: 11-0. Ovtcharov spirit was hurt, and he was so upset with himself that he couldn't recover entirely from that hard blow and Timo got the 6th an final set, thus signing his ticket to the quarterfinals.
The chinese "underdog" suffered a lot to overcame good old Vladi in seven sets, winning the last one by 11-9. Both players exchanged the control many times throughtout the match taking advantage, getting behind and going forward repeated times. At the end, Chen Qi got the minimum adantage over Vladi thanks to some unforced errors from the guy from Belaruss. Obviously it also paid off the fact that this group of Chinese players are not only extremely skilled but their will power is terrific as well. In the end, it was a very balanced match that could have gone to any of them.
So, today we have Men's singles Quarterfinals. Get sure to check all of them in ITTV as none of them are scheduled in parallel:
- Wang Hao vs Jun Mizutani. Will Jun be able to challenge Wang Hao as Ryu did? Will he be the one that will say "Wang Hao is no more the World Champion"? Will that be said??
- Ma Lin vs Ma Long. Will Ma Long suffer the same fate as Xu Xin against Wang Liqin? Will Ma Lin end tomorrow a once-more-time unsuccessful journey to a WTTC?
- Zhang Jike vs Wang Liqin. Zhang Jike and Xu Xin are aprox. from the same young generation. A generation who grew up watching Wang Liqin winning World Championships until getting bored. Does that fact weight too much on Wang Liqin's opponents minds? At least for me it does, and I'm not even playing there...
- Timo Boll vs Chen Qi. Although Dima was a though opponent, Timo's real problems start tomorrow on his first match against a Chinese. And without looking at Chen's as a minor rival, Timo's got the best opponent on this stage since Chen Qi is the top Chinese player with the smallest ranking. Should Timo win tomorrow he will confirm Chinese opinion about him being their strongest opponent.
Today was a very exciting day in the Women's Singles competition after they passed through Quarterfinals to Semifinal in a single day.
In Quarterfinals we saw two important upsets, as the last non-chinese (in terms of citizenship) Singapore's Feng Tianwei was *crushed* by Ding Ning by an score of 4-0, thus killing any ghost that could have been still around the Chinese team after that unexpected defeat last year in Moscow.
It was like if Ding Ning was looking for a vendetta.
Anyway, the other big quarterfinals upset was the 4-0 swept by world's #5 Liu Shiwen against #2 Guo Yan. Guo Yan, put all her heart to try to advance to the semifinals, looking for a new opportunity to fight for the title as she did in Yokohama 2009 when she lost to Zhang Yining, but sadly for her, Liu Shiwen wanted another thing.
In semifinals, the ranking logic prevailed and Li Xiaoxia crushed Guo Yue by 4-0 while Ding Ning had a harder work to overcame Liu Shiwen by an score of 4-2.
For tomorrow we expect a very exciting final match between #1 Li Xiaoxia and #3 Ding Ning, from where a new world champion will emerge! Get sure to watch it live in ITTV!
There were not Men's Doubles matches today, but tomorrow you will see the semifinals we talked about yesterday.
Women's Doubles is the only event relatively leveled in the odds for Chinese players and other countries players.
Today we saw 4 quarterfinals matches that put 2 Chinese, 1 HK and 1 South Korea pairs in semifinals.
To start, Li Xiaoxia / Guo Yue had a very hard time fighting against their team mates Feng Yalan / Mu Zi, and it was only after the 7 sets that they arose victorious by an score of 4-3 after being trailing 1-3 until the 4th set.
Then, the Korean duel between Korea DPR's Kim Hye Song / Kim Yong vs South Korea's Kim Kyun Ah / Park Mi Young was very leveled, but the South Korea's pair got more determination and won in 4 straight sets in very tight scores each one.
In the other non-chinese duel, HK's Jiang Huajun / Tie Yana faced Japan's Hirojo Fuji / Misako Wakamiya and the HK pair had a similarly hard time to overcome their Japanese opponents, as the South Koreans had with the North ones, winning by 4-1 but with very tight scores on each set.
Finally, Ding Ning / Guo Yan were merciless with Singapore's Li Jiawei / Sun Beibei, sweeping them by an score of 4-0 thus completely paying the Chinese Karma after being beaten by the Singaporeans on Moscow 2010 teams' final.
For tomorrow we expect to see only the semifinals matches between Li Xiaoxia / Guo Yue vs Kim Kyun Ah / Park Mi Young and Jiang Huajun / Tie Yana vs Ding Ning / Guo Yan, so yes, the Chinese are running on different rails therefore there's 50% odds that in the "2011 WTTC: Seventh day summary" I'll be writing about "how leveled the Women's Doubles event looked yesterday and how Chinese dominated it looks now".
Mixed Doubles has been the first event to reach its end on 2011 WTTC, with the final played today by Hao Shuai / Mu Zi vs Zhang Chao / Cao Zhen. Thanks to this final, Hao Shuai finally got the chance to demonstrate the Chinese coaching team that he's able to get a World Championship title after he was unexpectly left out of the Men's singles competition even when having qualified through the Chinese trials.
But in front of him was Cao Zhen, Mixed Doubles reigning Champion and current's best Mixed Doubles player in the world. In the words of Zhang Shao, her partner, on an interview with ITTF after the final match "everyone in the Men's team wanted to pair with Cao Zhen [...] In my mind she's my role model and flawless [as Mixed Doubles player]" which greatly explains why the world title went to Zhang Chao / Cao Zhen after beating Hao Shuai Mu Zi by an score of 4-11 (11-7, 11-7, 11-9, 9-11, 11-8).
Congratulations to Zhang Chao and Cao Zhen for the superb performance showed throughout the whole tournament!
Check below the video of the interview to the Mixed Doubles World Champions by the ITTF
Photo Source: Remy Gross / ITTF Official Flickr channel