Stefan Fegerl Scales New Heights, Zhang Jike Suffers Shock Semi-Final Exit
2015 ITTF World Tour, Polish Open
Courtesy of ITTF
Vital to Austrian success at the recently concluded Liebherr 2015 ITTF-European Championships in the Russian city of Ekaterinburg; Stefan Fegerl caused one of the biggest upsets of the year, at the semi-final stage of the Men’s Singles event at the GAC Group 2015 ITTF World Tour Polish Open in Warsaw, on the early afternoon of Sunday October 25th.
The no.23 seed, he beat China’s Zhang Jike, the no.4 seed and reigning Olympic champion in six games (17-15, 6-11, 8-11, 11-8, 11-3, 15-13) to scale heights never previously attained.
It is the first time this year that the 27 year old has ventured beyond the third round of an ITTF World Tour Men’s Singles event and only the second time in his whole career that he has reached the penultimate round.
On both occasions in Hungary; in 2014 he was beaten at the semi-final stage by Germany’s Steffen Mengel, earlier this year in the third round he lost to Portugal’s João Geraldo.
“I’m in a very good shape, I feel it, I’m happy because now I know I can now beat Zhang Jike, I didn’t expect it”, said Stefan Fegerl. “I know that I had a lot of luck today, especially in the end of this match, I made many edge balls but it happens; he was not in a good shape so it was a chance for me; I took it.”
Time and again we have seen Chinese stars escape, under the greatest pressure their technique stands the test; in Warsaw Stefan Fegerl, advised by Qian Qianli, the recently appointed Austrian Nation Coach, followed the Chinese example and maintained his technical skills.
“I’ve never thought I could win against him”, added Stefan Fegerl. “After the first game I’ve believed that it was possible to beat him today; my target was maybe I could win one game, suddenly, I had to change my plans!”
It was only the second occasion that Stefan Fegerl and Zhang Jike had confronted each other on the international scene.
The one previous meeting was at the ZEN-HOH 2014 World Team Championships in Tokyo when Zhang Jike had emerged successful in three straight games.
Zhang Jike has now played in 20 ITTF World Tour Men’s Singles semi-finals; he now won as many times as he has lost; the record reads, 10 wins and 10 defeats.
Success for Fan Zhendong
Success for Stefan Fegerl contrary to seeding, it was the same in the counterpart Men’s Singles semi-final but the outcome was no great surprise.
Fan Zhendong, the no.3 seed, accounted for Xu Xin, the no.2 seed, in the all China clash; as with Stefan Fegerl, he won in six games (12-10, 4-11, 7-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-6).
It was the eighth time in a World ranking event that Fen Zhendong and Xu Xin had met but it was only the third time that Fan Zhendong had won.
Notably, Fan Zhendong, at the time only 16 years old, won their first meeting at the semi-final stage of the GAC Group 2013 ITTF World Tour Swedish Open.
An impressive win but then Xu Xin turned the tables to win the next five, before Fan Zhendong emerged successful in their most recent encounter, the Men’s Singles final at the Suzuki 2015 Asian Championships some three weeks ago.
Victory for Fan Zhendong means that in 11 ITTF World Tour Men’s Singles semi-finals appearances, he has now won six times; for Xu Xin in 31 penultimate round visits it was his 14th defeat.
- Men’s Singles Final
TBD: Stefan FEGERL (AUT) vs FAN Zhendong (CHN)
- Women’s Singles Final
LIU Shiwen (CHN) def. DING Ning (CHN) : injured 4-0 (12-10,11-5,11-0,11-0)
- Men’s Doubles Final
KARLSSON Kristian (SWE) / KARLSSON Mattias (SWE) def. DYJAS Jakub (POL) / GORAK Daniel (POL) 3-1 (11-9,8-11,11-6,11-9)
- Women’s Doubles Final
DING Ning (CHN) / ZHU Yuling (CHN) def. FENG Tianwei (SIN) / YU Mengyu (SIN) 3-0 (11-9,11-3,11-7)
- U21 Men’s Singles Final
Jakub DYJAS (POL) def. LAM Siu Hang (HKG) 3-0 (11-9,11-7,11-5)
- U21 Women’s Singles Final
HIRANO Miu (JPN) def. SATO Hitomi (JPN) 3-2 (11-7,11-6,6-11,5-11,11-7)
Men’s Singles Semi-final 1: ZHANG Jike vs FEGERL Stefan
Men’s Singles Semi-final 2: FAN Zhendong vs XU Xin