Fightback from debutant Wang Manyu leaves Singapore star Feng Tianwei still seeking her first T2APAC match win
JOHOR BAHRU, 12 July 2017 – If Team Persson had beaten Team Maze 14-12 in the opening round of the T2 Asia Pacific Table Tennis League (T2APAC) two weeks ago, it was the Michael Maze-led side that returned the favour in Round 2.
At the purpose-built T2Cavern at Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia Studios, Michael Maze was all smiles as he watched his players win five of the six matches for an overall score of 21-8, the first time a team has won more than 20 games while restricting the opposition to under 10 games.
Singapore star Feng Tianwei gave notice of more to come as the world number six could count herself unlucky not to carve out her first win of this made-for-TV league, even as Chinese debutant Wang Manyu proved an able replacement for her compatriot Ding Ning on Team Persson.
Chen continued from where he left off in Round 1 by getting straight into his stride, giving Joo little chance in the first two games as he won 11-4, 11-5. Korean Joo finally found his way in game three when he came from 6-10 behind to force a final point at 10-10, with the match decided by an exciting crowd-pleasing counter-punching rally won by Chen. The Taiwanese also took the fourth game 11-6 before dropping game 5 6-3 as the clock expired. Said Chen: “I think I was very patient in my play, especially when I was ahead. I’m very satisfied with my performance today.”
Match 2: Bernadette Szocs (ROM) vs Hina Hayata (JPN)
Szocs got off to a flyer, winning the opening game 11-8, then surrendered the next game meekly 1-11. The fiery Romanian fought back hard in the third and were unlucky to drop it 9-11 with nicks off edges leaving her frustrated. Credit to the 22-year-old, she came back strongly to beat Hayata 11-9 in the fourth, having at one point been 5-8 behind. The Kill Zone game was always going to be a lottery, and Hayata finished stronger to win 5-3 and take home the US$1,000 match bonus. Said Hayata: “During the Kill Zone, Szocs changed the way she served, so I told myself so just return it without over-thinking the process, and that worked in my favour.”
Match 3: Jun Mizutani (JPN) vs Aleksandr Shibaev (RUS)
Shibaev gave little regard to Mizutani’s superior ranking with an authoritative 4-1 win over the world number seven, winning the first two games easily 11-7, 11-4, before the Japanese pulled one back by winning the third 11-10. Shibaev was forced into a racquet change after hitting the table on the final point of the third game, and after a slow start to the fourth, the Russian came storming through to win 11-6. Despite trailing 4-3 in the Kill Zone game, Shibaev again dug deep to pull off a win in the special game unique to T2APAC. Said Shibaev: “This is the first time I’ve won a Kill Zone game, so today is a very good day for me. I wasn’t nervous at all in the final game but most importantly, I managed to add four games to my team’s total, so that’s most important for me.”
Match 4: Wang Manyu (CHN) vs Feng Tianwei (SGP)
T2APAC debutant Wang belied her world number 33 ranking to pull off a deserved 3-2 win over Singapore’s world number six Feng. Taking over from her Chinese compatriot, the superstar Ding Ning, Wang showed little nerves in taking the first game 11-8. Feng fought back brilliantly in taking in the next two games 11-7, 11-9, showing the skills fans have come to expect of her. But 18-year-old Wang made adjustments in her game to win the fourth game 11-7, and force a Kill Zone game, which she won 5-3 after going 4-1 in front. Feng, meanwhile, is left searching for her first match win after four outings. Said Wang: “The crucial factor in this victory is patience, and just concentrating on every point whether in front or behind. I was prepared to win or lose but more importantly, it was learning from the experience of playing one of the world’s top-ranked players.”
Match 5: Mattias Karlsson (SWE) vs Timo Boll (GER)
Karlsson and Boll served up a compelling battle between two Europeans, one who is an up-and-coming player while the other a wily old veteran. And it was the experience of Boll that prevailed as the German showed his superiority in taking the opening two games 11-7, 11-6 before yielding the third game 11-10 to Karlsson. Boll was not in charitable mood as he took the fourth game 11-5 and was 4-2 up in the Kill Zone game before winning that as well 5-4.
Said Boll: “Yeah, I think I played a good game. I played quite good tactics, thanks to my coach, and I’m very pleased with the results.”
Match 6: Suthasini Sawettabut (THA) vs Yang Haeun (KOR)
Thai ace Suthasini started her T2APAC campaign two weeks ago with a 3-1 victory over Elizabeta Samara but has not found her winning touch since. And that trend continued against Yang as the Korean just about managed to stay a neck or a nose ahead of her opponent, winning 11-8, 11-9, 11-9, and as the final game 8-7 on a sudden-death point after the clock ran down.
Team Captain’s quote:
Michael Maze: “I had some good players in my team and they performed very well today. We had a little bit of luck at times but everybody was just playing fantastic. But just because we won today doesn’t mean we will win tomorrow, so we have to prepare ourselves for the next match.”
Quote of the day:
“I think everyone’s afraid of Mattias’ crushing forehand, he’s a tall strong guy, but also his backhand is very dangerous.” – Timo Boll of Team Maze after winning his match 4-1 against Mattias Karlsson of Team Persson.
Match Day 1
Team Fixture 8: Team Persson vs Team Maze