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Table Tennis News and Reviews » Blog Archive » Experience and Youth Steers China to Men’s Team Gold in Moscow

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  • 01Jun

    Ma Lin saluted the massed ranks of Chinese supporters, in the tiered seating in the Olimpijsky Sports Complex, after winning the final point against Timo Boll in the men’s final at the Liebherr World Team Championships in Moscow on the evening of Sunday 3oth May 2010.

    At the conclusion of what had been a day of drama, China beat Germany by three matches to one to regain the Swaythling Cup; a duel where the eventual silver medallists could hold their heads high.


    Zhang Jike recorded vital win in first World Championship final  Photo By: Rémy Gros


    They had brought the best out of the superb Chinese players.
    Match Progress
    Timo Boll recovered from a two games to nil deficit to beat Ma Long in the first match of the duel before Ma Lin defeated Dimitrij Ovtcharov, Zhang Jike overcame Christian Süss and Ma Lin brought matters to an end by defeating Timo Boll.

    Debuts More than a Decade Apart
    Experience and youth brought China success in the final. Ma Lin made his debut in a World Championships in 1997 in the English city of Manchester; for Zhang Jike it was his first ever World Championships and only his second ever appearance for China in a team competition.

    Winner of the Boys’ Singles title at the first ever ITTF Cadet Change in Hungary in 2002, he made his senior debut in the Austrian city of Linz at the World Team Cup in October 2009.

    Ma Long Makes Better Start
    Ma Long made the better start in the duel against Timo Boll but as the first game neared conclusion it was Timo Boll who held a slight lead at 8-7.

    However, the German was not able to convert the marginal advantage, the first game went the way of Ma Long.

    Attacked Backhand of Timo Boll
    In trademark style, Ma Long attacked with venom from the forehand, directing his early attacking strokes towards the backhand of his German opponent. He gave Timo Boll little time to react.

    In the second game Ma Long made a lightning start but Timo Boll reduced the arrears to 7-9. Liu Guoliang, the Chinese Men’s National Coach, as he has done so often in the past, called “Time Out” in the very early stages of the proceedings.

    Timo Boll won the next point but the next two both went to Ma Long, China held a two games to nil lead.

    Third Game to Timo Boll
    In the third game, Timo Boll was able to execute his favoured forehand topspin stroke rather more than in the previous two games.

    He established a 7-2 lead, Ma Long reduced the arrears to 8-6; the moment at which Richard Prause, German Men’s Team National Coach, called “Time Out”.

    Ma Long levelled at 8-all but at 10-9 it was game point to Timo Boll; a dynamic backhand topspin across the diagonal saved the game point. Again at 11-10, Timo Boll held game point, this time he converted the opportunity.

    Level
    In the fourth game Timo Boll made the better start as Ma Long made errors. He led 5-3, he won he next two points before Ma Long reduced the deficit by winning a stupendous counter topspin rally.

    However, Timo Boll, returning the service of Ma Long short with great skill was able to execute his forehand topspin to move into a 10-5 lead, the heavy topspin forcing errors from the racket of Ma Long.

    Decider
    Playing with controlled topspin as opposed to the blazing power of Ma Long
    Timo Boll led 5-4 at the chang of ends having lost the first two points of the game.

    Ma Long was under pressure, immense pressure and made errors trying play his devastating forehand topspin. The German went ahead 7-4, he maintained the advantage at 8-6 and at 10-7 held three match points.

    The chance was converted at the first attempt, Germany celebrated.

    Experience
    The voice of experience was next into the arena for China, Ma Lin took centre stage to face Dimitrij Ovtcharov and captured a close first game.

    Rallies were minimal, Ma Lin, the master in the art of service and receive displayed his art to the full.

    He won the first game and the second; certainly in the second game he played in an increasingly confident manner being able to answer the topspin attacks of Dimitrij Ovtcharov in like style.

    Ma Lin Draws China Level
    In the third game Ma Lin moved into a 4-3 lead, Richard Prause called “Time Out”. However, the skill of Ma Lin at being able to serve and follow with a devastating attack was taking control.

    Furthermore, confidence was draining from Dimitrij Ovtcharov; Ma Lin was in control. The man who had secured the final place in the team for the Liebherr World Team Championships by winning a specially arranged play-off match against Wang Liqin had drawn China Level.

    Youth
    The voice of experience for China was replaced by the voice of youth; next in line for the defending champions was Zhang Jike; he faced Christian Süss.

    At the German Open Open earlier in the year, Zhang Jike had beaten Christian Süss in four straight games; he had won with a degree of ease.

    Different Scenario
    However, in Moscow it was a pressure cooker situation, a totally different scenario to that which he had faced in the Max Schmelling Halle in Berlin in February.

    Christian Süss won the first game, then in the second went ahead at the start, established a four point lead, retained the lead to 9-6 but then lost the next five points at Zhang Jike played in a faultless fashion; attacking over the table he had proved supreme.

    The momentum had swung in favour of Zhang Jike, the second was close with Zhang Jike holding a narrow lead; at 10-9 Liu Guoliang called “Time Out”. The break worked for Zhang Jike, a counter topspin rally went his way.

    It was time for the Chinese supporters to stand and cheer.

    Assumed Control
    Zhang Jike was now assuming control; in the fourth game he won the first three points of the fourth game. Richard Prause called “Time Out”. It was to no avail; Zhang Jike was quicker with the first attack, he won the fourth game and China had the lead.

    Once again the throngs of Chinese supporters were on their feet.

    Memories of Bremen
    Ma Lin versus Timo Boll was the next on the agenda and surely German memories went back to Bremen in 2006 when Germany met China at the semi-final stage. China beat Germany by three matches to one on that occasion, the one victory for Germany?

    Timo Boll beat Ma Lin.

    Fast Start
    Ma Long had started like an express train against Timo Boll in the first match of the contest. Ma Lin did exactly the same.

    Also he followed the avowed tactic of directing his first attack towards the backhand of Timo Boll, the policy followed time and time again against the Chinese. He continued that policy but at 10-8 Timo Boll produced the most outrageous diagonally directed backhand to reduce the deficit to one point before levelling at 10-all.

    Timo Boll saved two game points, then had one of his own before serving into the net when level at 13-all; again he saved the game point. It was parity at 14-all; then the next two points to Timo Boll and it was German jubilation.

    Fast Reply
    A close first game was followed by a convincing second game; Ma Lin raced into a 9-1 lead, he secured the game 11-4; it was parity.

    Returning the services of Timo Boll short and with exquisite control then executing a strong forehand topspin, Ma Lin won the first five points of the third game.

    Timo Boll reduced the deficit to 5-3, Liu Guoliang called “Time Out”. The break worked in favour of Timo Boll as opposed to Ma Lin, Timo Boll levelled at 7-all but never established a lead.

    China was one game away from glory.

    Ma Lin Secures Title
    In the fourth game, Timo Boll tried to gain the advantage by playing his forehand over the table, along the parallel to the forehand of Ma Lin.

    The ploy met with mixed success, Ma Lin went ahead 6-4; stopping Ma Lin playing a powerful after the service was proving a major headache for Timo Boll.

    Richard Prause called “Time Out”; it was the last throw of the dice.

    Ma Lin was not to be denied and neither was China; the Swaythling Cup was retained; the supporters were delirious.

    Germany had acquitted themselves proudly, China simply superb.

    Posted by ttfan @ 3:50 pm

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