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Table Tennis News and Reviews » Blog Archive » Qatar Open - Fighting, Fighting, Fighting, Nothing Changes

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  • 21Feb

    In typical style he fought, as he has done for over two decades
    displaying an attitude than took him to the top of the ITTF Men’s World
    Rankings in 1994, a position he held for some 18 months.

    At the
    age of 39 a return to such high echelons is now out of the question but
    for Belgium’s Jean-Michel Saive, the thrill of competition, the desire
    to succeed is as strong as ever.

    In his opening round match in
    the Men’s Singles event at the Qatar Open in Doha on Thursday 19th
    February 2009; that "will to win" had to be strong; otherwise it would
    have been farewell.

    Vintage
    He faced
    Poland’s Jakub Kosowski, a young man who is making notable progress on
    the ITTF Pro Tour and was more than a dangerous opponent for the
    Belgian legend.

    The first three games in the contest were very
    much vintage "Saive"; the vintage being that he was scampering around
    the back of the court, returning with topspin strokes and generally
    proving very entertaining. The only problem for Saive was that once in
    the long grass all the points were going the way of his adversary.

    Bleak Outlook
    It
    looked bleak; Kosowski attacked the Saive backhand, the Belgian
    retreated and the Pole, two games to one ahead, established an 8-3 lead
    in the fourth game.

    In Kuwait, one week earlier, Russia’s Kirill
    Skachkov had halted his progress, one week later it seemed that another
    young player, eager to make his mark on the ITTF Pro Tour, was about to
    do the same.

    Hint of Panic
    Saive
    reduced the arrears to 8-5, perhaps there was a hint of panic in the
    Polish camp; Kosowski elected to take a "Time Out"; with the benefit of
    hindsight it was just what Saive needed.

    In the guise of a
    Francophone highwayman he robbed Kosowski of a two games lead; he
    levelled and then played in more confident mode. Rarely was he forced
    back from the table; attacking quickly and with experience on his side
    he took control.

    He won the fifth game, established a 10-8 lead in the sixth, called "Time Out" and then brought matters to a conclusion.

    New Rule
    "At
    3-8 and two games to one down, the match was slipping away; usually
    when you are in that situation you lose", sighed Saive who has yet to
    come to terms with the fact that no longer can he use speed glue when
    affixing the rubber to his racket.

    "For me I’ve played with glue
    for 20 years; now it’s not easy to change and I’ve lost many matches
    recently", explained Saive who had a poignant message for the
    International Table Tennis Federation at the press conference held
    immediately after the duel.

    Players’ Organisation
    "There
    has not been enough discussion with the players about the change; in
    tennis there is the ATP, we don’t really have such an organisation in
    table tennis which enables us to express our views", he said in serious
    mood. "It’s difficult for the player to make his voice heard; we are
    told we must change, we must adapt; for me now, world ranking is not
    important but it’s important to enjoy playing table tennis; at the
    moment that’s not always the case."

    It is difficult for
    Jean-Michel Saive, his style was honed in the previous century but in
    Qatar, there was a smile on his face; it was an opening round victory.

    Source: www.ittf.com

    Posted by ttfan @ 2:43 pm

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