ECLW semi-final: First round belongs to reigning championPhoto: Courtesy ITTF
TTC Berlin Eastside beat away Linz AG Froschberg 3:2, as SHAN Xiona won two matches
Defending ECLW champion TTC Berlin Eastside beat away Linz AG Froschberg 3:2 in the first semi-final leg, hence the finalist will be decided in the returning clash in Germany. SHAN Xioana was decisive factor, as she defeated both finalists of recent Austrian National Championships, Sofia POLCANOVA and LIU Jia. Both teams were unbeaten until this meeting.
Current World No. 17 LIU jia beat Georgina POTA (World No. 31) in straight games of the opening match. Guest had just one short period in which she played better than her opponent, leading 7:5 in the second set. But, host responded by four consecutive points and won that set. The 2005 individual European champion fully deserved this victory.
World No. 12 SHAN Xiaona leveled the score against Sofia POLCANOVA (No. 49), in spite of losing the opening game. Recently crowned champion of Austria opened the encounter by her 6:1 and 7:3 lead, but guest reversed the score to 8:7 in her favor. After all, POLCANOVA saved two game balls and won first set. From that moment SHAN controlled the game, creating 8-0 run in early second set. The winner has been decided after 11 points in a row of Berlin`s player (from 4:4 in the third set to 4:0 in the fourth one).
Actual World No. 74 ZHANG Mo provided new lead to the host side, as she overcame Petrissa SOLJA (No. 13) after full five games. German player, whose participation was in question due to injury, had an advantage after three games. But Canadian player dominated in the next two sets, as SOLJA`s did several backhand errors. Host opened the ultimate game with five consecutive points and guest had no energy to respond.
Two runner-ups of recent national championships, Austrian and German, met in the fourth clash. SHAN prevailed against LIU in four games, as last two were finished by narrow margin. It was a real fight between two strong attackers who created several beautiful rallies. LIU saved four set balls in the third game and two match balls in the ultimate chapter. But she missed her chances at 14:13 in the third and 10:9, 11:10 in fourth one.
POTA brought an important win to German team, as she overcame POLCANOVA in straight games. Linz`s player missed good chance in the third set when she led 6:1 and 8:5. Guest concluded the clash by her six points in a row.
2016/17 ECLW semi-final, 1st leg
LINZ AG FROSCHBERG – TTC BERLIN EASTSIDE 2:3
LIU Jia – Georgina POTA 3:0 (11:7, 11:9, 11:9)
Sofia POLCANOVA – SHAN Xiaona 1:3 (13:11, 1:11, 4:11, 8:11)
ZHANG Mo – Petrissa SOLJA 3:2 (11:6, 7:11, 8:11, 11:3, 11:6)
LIU Jia – SHAN Xiaona 1:3 (5:11, 11:7, 14:16, 13:15)
Sofia POLCANOVA – Georgina POTA 0:3 (5:11, 8:11, 8:11)