Sina Sports. Zhang Jike has already proven his strength as a table tennis player after being hailed as the latest Grand Slam champion. Along with the people who acknowledge the strength of Zhang Jike is no other than the German star Timo Boll.
In the 2011 World Championships, Timo Boll reached the semifinals of the Men's Singles but failed to seal his place in the finals after experiencing defeat against Zhang Jike. Such victory was important for the Chinese Team as Timo Boll is their strongest competitor for the title and eliminating him just assured the team of the gold.
Zhang Jike vs Timo Boll 2011 WTTC MS SF
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However, before Zhang Jike showed himself to the world and overwhelm his opponents, he was once not considered as a threat by Timo Boll.
"I can still clearly remember that very first match in an Open Tournament that we met. To be honest, I never felt that he was already extremely strong. In addition, I did not feel that he was of the same level with Ma Lin, Wang Liqin and Wang Hao. However, in recent years, he made rapid progress. All those achievements are just very impressive." Timo Boll started.
Among all the traits of Zhang Jike, Timo Boll is very impressed with his mental strength in crucial competitions. He cited that when others fall down from the pressure of the competition, that is the time that Zhang Jike excels.
"He basically doesn't have any weaknesses. In crucial games, there are some Chinese players who actually get nervous but Zhang Jike is not that way. He has good psychological qualities. When others go down, he goes up. This is his most distinct quality." He added.
Aside from the mental qualities, Timo Boll also emphasised the physical attributes of Zhang Jike. "If you look closely at his physical condition, he is just simply perfect for playing table tennis most especially his legs. They are really very suitable for the sport." Boll explained.
Lastly, apart from the great improvements of Zhang Jike in the technical and mental aspect, Timo Boll acknowledged the maturity of the young champion. Before, Zhang Jike had the reputation of being arrogant but this time, he has changed.
"He is one great champion. After a few years of experience, his sportsmanship has improved a lot. He was still shy when he first participated in international competitions. Now, he is completely different. If he has an edge ball, or just being lucky, he is humble enough to say sorry. In addition, his body language also expresses the same." Timo Boll concluded.
Photo source: Sina Sports