The England is through to the semi-finalsPhoto: Courtesy ITTF
Perfect 2016 World Team Championships in Kuala Lumpur
The England is through to the semi-finals in the World Championships for the first time in 33 years. At the ZEN-NOH 2014 World Team Table Tennis Championships in 2014 in Tokyo, England emerged successfully at the top of the Second division to be promoted to the elite. Only two years later at the Perfect 2016 World Team Championships in Kuala Lumpur , the same players, Liam PITCHFORD, Paul DRINKHALL and Samuel WALKER secured their first medal. England played in the quarterfinal of the World championships first time after Tokyo 1993. They beat France to reach the medal rostrum. In the semis they will play against Japan.
In the full distance, nail biting match it was France who had dream start. Simon GAUZY beat Paul DRINKHALL in straight game but in very close contest that announced great battle that followed (10:9, 10:8, 10:8). In doughtily performance Liam PITCHFORD brought England back to the game. He beat Emmanuel LEBESSON in straight games (8:11, 6:11, 9:11). Once again pendulum swung. Tristan FLORE gave France the lead again. Samuel WALKER took only one game (11:8, 11:5, 7:11, 11:7). Liam PITCHFORD was the star of the day. His match against Simon GAUZY, his teammate from Bundesliga’s Ochsenhausen kept the spectators on the very edges of their seats before he salad it with the victory and pushed to the decider (10:12, 21:19, 9:11, 9:11).
In the full distance, table tennis treat DRINKHALL overcame LEBESSON (13:15, 11:8, 11:9, 9:11, 11:13). Paul took a fifth match point in the deciding game to secure the victory.
DRINKHALL stated after: "Yes I was 10-6 in the fifth but I won 13-11 and that is what counts!"
"It has just been fantastic, Liam played great today and won both his matches and Sam has been great at number three", added DRINKHALL. "We came here as a promoted team; our aim was to stay in the division, now we are in the semi-finals; it is just beyond belief."
It was a view with which PITCHFORD agreed with: "Yesterday Paul won two and we won against Poland; today I won two and we won against France. We have all played to a good level; we have beaten good team; everyone has pulled together."
Sweden’s duel against China brought back sweet memories of the past, but in this attempt, Asian side still stood too strong. Despite brave effort Mattias KARLSSON, Kristian KARLSSON and Jon PERSSON, failed to halt the progress of the reigning champions. MA Long, FAN Zhedong and XU Xin succeeded in straight matches. China maintained the clean record but they faced pressure coming from the other side of the net.
“I have never played against Kristian and that is why I felt uncomfortable at the beginning. It is my first World Championships and I feel little bit nervous. In two opening game I was too much passive. I started to take control only after the second game,” explained FAN Zhedong.
Swedish Coach Marcus SJÖBERG was positive about his team’s performance.
“I appreciate the way players entered the match. They had great attitude despite the enormity of the challenge they have faced. They showed great fighting spirit; they did not give up at any point. We proved we can play against such team, and with such young players I think in near future we will prove we can win as well. They performance brings optimism before the 2018 World Team’s Championships in Halmstad,” said SJOBERG.