(by Steve Hopkins)
If there was any question, Dimitrij Ovtcharov has let the world know that he is fully recovered from injury. He pulled away in each of the first three games against Dang Qiu winning 11-6, and 11-8, largely using careful play and then dominating with big backhands. But towards the end of the third game, Qiu fought back and after winning two to tie the game, he pulled out a 13-11 win in the third game. Qiu’s final few points were all very careful – baiting Ovtcharov into taking dangerous attacks. Qiu jumped out to an early lead in the fourth game, playing deep balls to the corners, and being content to occupy the center of the table and play defensive blocks. As one of the very few penholders in Europe, with a lead Qiu is able to hit some very tricky serves and returns – the fourth game went to Qiu easily 11-6. In the fifth game, Ovtcharov stayed a point or two ahead until he reached 7 – at which point, Qiu ran off five points in a row stealing the fifth game and taking the advantage in the match. The sixth game was a fight throughout – and after two late high-pressure ties, Ovtcharov wins 13-11 and ties the match again at 3-3. In the decisive seventh game, it was again Qiu pulling ahead early. A 4-1 lead, then 5-1 before Ovtcharov fought back with a run of his own, cutting the lead to 5-4. Qiu was still up at 7-5, and then 8-5 before Ovtcharov’s next assault cut the lead to 8-7. Qiu continued his precise play to win two in a row – running the score to 10-7, and then holding on for the 11-8 victory.
Ovtcharov had a solid run – a great comeback after a prolonged injury. But Sunday belonged to Dang Qiu. He won twice on Saturday against solid opponents and overcame Germany’s top ranked player in the Final on Sunday. also capped off an impressive run winning twice on Saturday (over Ryoichi Yochiyama and Kang Dongsoo) on his way to the Final. Qiu also teamed with Mittelham to win the Mixed Doubles. A perfect week for Dang Qiu.
In Women’s Singles, it was Nina Mittelham, the second seed, fighting past Miyu Nagasaki 4-3. At age 20, Miyu Nagasaki is another young Japanese lady with great potential. For her part, Mittelham at age 25 is no longer a young player, but she still has several years in her prime to potentially improve her World No. 16 Ranking.
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