World class players in Lasko
The surprising winner of the German National Championships is Steffen MENGEL, the player who currently occupies spot number 157 at the World Rankings. On his way to the throne, at the last hurdle Steffan beat best ranked European – Timo BOLL. “I can hardly believe that I become German champion, and that I beat Timo in the final,” said MENGEL.
Timo BOLL: “Steffen started very well and was definitely the better player in the first 3 games. I realized from the start that the wind will blow from a different quarter in this match”. In the previous rounds the nine-times German Champion didn’t lose a single game, but didn’t really shine during his four 4-0s, as BOLL put it. He didn’t have to. Steffen MENGEL was the first to really challenge him. From the fourth game BOLL was finally in the match, playing dominantely, and led 6-3 in the 6th game - “at that point I should have won. I was so close”.
MENGEL having his back up against the wall changed his strategy, a.o. varied his service. “Until the end I read them very poorly,” says BOLL. Anyway, he made his way up to 2 match balls, 11-10 and 12-11 in the 6th. Before MENGEL served BOLL even took his time-out at 12-11 showing big respect to his opponent’s service. Alas, it didn’t help. Boll lost this game and the final one. “It’s a pity, but it’s not the end of the world. You have to go through this in sport,” says BOLL. “I would like to win some time again, but I know that it’s not going to be easy”. If BOLL had won this would have been his 10th title and he would be the only player on top of the singles statistics. At the moment he is still “backed” by Eberhard SCHÖLER and Conny FREUNDORFER, the stars of the 1950is to 70ies.
MENGEL added:: “I still can’t believe that I’ve become German Champion and in addition, beat Timo in the final. We haven’t played each other for quite a while. Before the match my goal was to win at least one game. At the German Closed in 2010 he beat me easily. Usually I don’t have any chance against him. Timo plays every ball on a high level. Against him you need to have your optimum capacity. I need to thank the spectators in Bamberg. It was very much fun playing here”.
SHAN Xiaona clinched the title in Women’s Singles. “I’m so thrilled to be the German Champion. It’s like a dream. It wasn’t easy for me against ‘Lulu’ in the final. We practice every day at the German Table Tennis Centre in Düsseldorf. She knows my service, knows my whole game. It’s usually easier for me against players who don’t know me so well.”
(by Simone HINZ, courtesy DTTB)
Men’s Singles - Final: Steffen MENGEL – Timo BOLL 4:3 (4,-8, 8, -6, -5, 12, 7) Semi final Timo BOLL – Alexander FLEMMING 4:0 (5, 9, 10, 3) Steffen MENGEL – Zoltan FEJER-KONNERTH 4:3 (-5, 8, -7, 9, -7, 9, 11)
Women’s Singles - Final SHAN Xiaona – ZHENQI Barthel 4:2 (6, 6, -6, 7, -8, 7) Semi Final ZHENQI Barthel – Kristin SILBEREISEN 4:0 (10, 6, 5, 8) SHAN Xiaona – Kathrin MÜHLBACH 4:0 (9, 3, 7, 7)
Men’s Doubles - Final Alexander FLEMMING/Jörg SCHLICHTER – Nico CHRIST/Lennart WEHKING 4:1 (9,3,-8,10,10) Semi Final Alexander FLEMMING/Jörg SCHLICHTER – Philipp FLORITZ/Zoltan FEJER-KONNERTH 4:3 (-7,-12,-8,8,9,7,5) Nico CHRIST/Lennart WEHKING – Deniz AYDIN/Sebastian BORCHARDT 4:0 (6,5,6,7)
Women’s Doubles - Final Sabine WINTER/Petrissa SOLJA – SHAN Xiaona/ZHENQI Barthel 4:2 (-8,-7,5,9,4,3) Semi final Sabine WINTER/Petrissa SOLJA – Alina HECK/Kristin SILBEREISEN 4:2 (0,12,-8,-6,3,5) SHAN Xiaona/ZHENQI Barthel – Tanja KRÄMER/Nadine BOLLMEIER 4:1 (5,2,-8,8,6)
Photo: Steffen MENGEL enjoying the flavour of victory in Bamberg (Photo Roscher)