(by Steve Hopkins, photo ITTFWorld)
UPDATE: Semifinal Results
Simon Gauzy, France’s best player, is one of the quickest players in the German League – seemingly getting to every ball and often moving away from the table for deep drives or lobs. Today, however, the quickness advantage is clearly on the side of Lin Yun-Ju – who not only gets to every ball, he often returns serves deep to his forehand with his backhand flip, and he regularly steps five feet wide of his backhand to strike forehand balls (sometimes doing both thing in the same point). Lin Yun-Ju is one of the fastest rising players on the tour, and he is competing toe to toe with the most elite players in the game (playing a precise, quick style like the Chinese and Japanese and Korean players dominating the World’s Top 10).
Lin Yun-Ju dominated the first game today – over-powering and out-maneuvering Gauzy with an 11-7 win. The second game stayed tight, and as near the end Gauzy managed to win several points with powerful crosscourt backhands. The third game was an 11-3 trouncing by Lin Yun-Ju. Lin started the fourth game winning 5 of the first 6 points, but as Gauzy fought back to tie the game at 9 it looked as though there could be a real momentum change. But Lin Yun-Ju fought back and closed out the game – establishing a 3-1 lead in games. Gauzy had an early lead in the 5th game, but Lin reeled him back in and tied the score 5-5. It stayed tight to 8-8 and then 9-9 – and then Lin won two in a row ending the match 4-1. Lin Yun-Ju will be in the Final tomorrow.
For two games, Harimoto outmaneuvered Ovtcharov at every turn. He was quicker and more consistent and he won the long rallies. In the third game, some great shots at the very end turned a Harimoto advantage into Ovtcharov’s first win. Harimoto didn’t recover as Ovtcharov masterfully mixed up his serves and serve returns, played careful rallies, and hammered backhands through Harimoto’s backhand side. Ovtcharov wins four in a row – the final three in dominating fashion at 4, 3, and 7. As the match progressed, it was Ovtcharov’s strong backhands that dominated points – often playing one controlled ball deep and then pounding the second backhand.
Tomorrow will be an All-Butterfly Final as Dimitrij Ovtcharov faces off with Lin Yun-Ju.
Check in with ButterflyOnline.com for news and scores.
The WTT Contender Event in Doha is down to the Final 4, and three of four in the Men’s Semifinals are Butterfly Players. Top seeded Tomokazu Harimoto had smooth sailing again with a 3-1 win over Korea’s Cho. Dimirij Ovtcharov, World No. 12, won the first, third, and fifth games on the way to an upset over Europe’s top ranked player, Mattias Falck. Simon Gauzy was down 0-2 against Ochsenhausen teammate (and the event’s second seed) Hugo Calderano, but Gauzy won the final three games to advance. And Gauzy will face Lin Yun-Ju who beat Quadri Aruna 3-1 in the fourth Quarterfinal match.
The early Friday matches are over, but there is another round scheduled tonight in Doha starting with Lin Yun-Ju versus Simon Gauzy at approximately 11:20a Eastern Time, and then followed by the Harimoto versus Ovtcharov match. Live Coverage is available via high res video streaming at worldtabletennis.com.
The Women’s Event has been dominated by the Japanese players. In the Semifinals, it is Japan’s Hayata versus Japan’s Kihara on one side of the draw, and top seeded Mima Ito (also from Japan) against Singapore’s Yu Mengyu. The Women’s Semifinals are live at WTT right now, and Ito is well on her way to ensuring an all-Japan Final as she is up 3-1 in games.
We’ll have an update later today after the Semifinals have concluded.
Check in with ButterflyOnline.com for news and scores as the ITTF Calendar heats up ahead of the Olympic Games this July.