(by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor)
Dimitrij Ovtcharov books final place, for Lin Gaoyuan questions remain unanswered
Two full distance contests en route to the semi-final stage of the Men’s Singles event at the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals in Astana, Kazakhstan; for Dimitrij Ovtcharov it was exactly the same in the penultimate round on the evening of Saturday 16th December.
After earlier in the tournament having beaten the Japanese duo of Koki Niwa (11-12, 11-6, 12-14, 11-6, 9-11, 11-9, 11-5) and Tomokazu Harimoto (11-7, 11-13, 11-8, 12-14, 11-8, 5-11, 11-7); the top seed, he recovered from a two games to nil deficit to overcome China’s Lin Gaoyuan, the no.4 seed (7-11, 6-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-8, 4-11, 12-10) in a contest that captivated the crowd..
There is no doubting the talent of Lin Gaoyuan but after his defeats from winning positions against colleague, Xu Xin at the Liebherr 2017 World Championships earlier this year and similarly when facing Germany’s Timo Boll at the Liebherr Men’s World Cup, on both occasions spurning a string of match points when having a commanding lead, there are question marks over the mental qualities of the 22 year old.
In Astana the questions were not answered; further sitting courtside in the role of coach was Liu Guozheng, one of the most mentally strong players who ever laid racket on ball.
Lin Gaoyuan made the better start, in the opening game, he went ahead 7-3, he never relinquished the advantage; in the second he trailed 3-5 as Dimitrij Ovtcharov appeared set to provide an instant response. It was not to be the scenario, Lin Guoyan secured the next seven points, securing matters on his second game point.
Conversely, in the third game, Dimitrij Ovtcharov was 3-5 in arrears. He elected for “Time Out” and recovered to level at 7-all as Lin Guoyuan became impetuous. The game was secured by the minimum two point margin before in the fourth, Lin Guoyuan again made the better start. He went ahead 5-1, Dimitrij Ovtcharov levelled at 5-all before securing the game as Lin Gaoyuan became hesitant.
Gaining in confidence, Dimitrij Ovtcharov secured the fifth game before at full steam Lin Gaoyuan prevailed in the sixth. At the change of ends in the decider, Dimitrij Ovtcharov led 5-3, Lin Gaoyuan levelled at 6-all but never gained a lead.
At 10-8 Dimitrij Ovtcharov held two match points; both were saved before at the third attempt he converted.
For full article, please click here