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European Games - 18 Jun 2015

Netherlands’ LI Jiao and LI Jie booked semi final places

Photo: Francois Nel/Getty Images

Only one match in the quarterfinal of the Women’s Singles Event at the European Games in Baku went according to seeding

Only one match in the quarterfinal of the Women’s Singles Event at the European Games in Baku went according to seeding. In three other matches, lower ranked player prevailed and among the casualties were the number one seed as well. 

World’s no. 10 and top seeded, HAN Ying of Germany suffered by the hands of LI Jie of Netherlands. LI recovered from 2:0 in reverse, leveled at 3:3 and eventually won the decisive game.

“I felt so tired this morning. I could not get up from my bed. Not only that my body was tired, but my mind as well. I thought, I have a medal and if I lose, it would not be so bad after all. I took me a while to get up, but then I forced myself to face the challenge and to give my best. I beat LI Xue of France in the Round of 16 and I found strength to overcame HAN,” explained LI Jie.

After two opening games LI gained the control in the match.

“I barely made any mistakes. I did not panic, just trying to play any ball safe. The major problem was that I play against so many defenders here and I am so tired. But in the third game I felt there is something; I can beat her.”

HAN Ying admitted the pressure of being no. one was very strong.

“In opening games I played the way we planed. I preferred when the expedite system started, but in the third game I lost control. I could not find the answer to her service game. I had big problem finding the tactics,” explained HAN.”I came here as no. one seed and everyone was after me. In addition I put an extra pressure by wanting so much to qualify directly to the Olympic Games.”

Eva ODOROVA of Slovakia plays the tournament of her career. So far, the best result for player. No. 115 at the World rankings was the quarterfinal of the Mixed Doubles Event at the World Championships in Yokohama in 2009. Today, after she beat Renata STRBIKOVA of Czech Republic, ODOROVA succeeded against Margaryta PESOTSKA of Ukraine.

“I have never played against PESOTSKA before, so I study her game from video. Also I talked with few coaches what to do and their advices proved worthy,” explained ODOROVA. ”For the match against STRBIKOVA there was no need for any advice. We knew each other, something like, forever. From age of 10 we played against each other and at this point, the question of motivation and who has a better day is the crucial for victory.”

The short time between the matches and long distances between the Village and the venue gave ODOROVA opportunity to see the city between two matches.

“I went out to eat something and the rest of the time I spent on massage. I have a problem with my arm and shoulder. I did not want even to practice. I exchanged few balls with Barbora BALAZOVA for a 15 minutes in order to preserve some strength for the quarterfinal match.”

There is a big chance we could see the all-Dutch final tomorrow. Netherlands will have two representatives in semis; LI Jiao also booked her place among top 4. She also had incredible journey to the ultimate day. In the morning hours, first time after 10 defeats in the row, she managed to beat LIU Jia of Austria, no. two seed at the tournament. Latter she accounted for Petrissa SOLJA of Germany.

Night before the Round of 16 Jiao was sure she would not be able to play, but after the mixture of ice cold and hot showers she went to bed and early in the morning she recovered enough to clear her way to the semis.

“Against SOLJA I won two opening games and then I started to play faster. I made few mistakes, before I asked myself ‘Where are you running?’ I started to play with less pressure, more relaxed and regain my control,” explained LI Jiao.

SOLJA was disappointed.

“Never mind the rankings, with her experience, LI Jiao was the favorite here. I am disappointed, but still there is a gold medal in team’s to make me feel better.”

The only player who justified her rankings was HU Melek of Turkey. Seed no. 8 overcame LI Qian of Poland no. 11 seed and it was the hard task since previously LI Qian overcame Elizabeta SAMARA of Romania, no. 3 seed.

“I was so nervous at the beginning. When won three opening games, t put some extra pressure off my shoulders, but unfortunately I became too relaxed, because LI took the control over the match. I lost next game, before I started to feel the pain in my arm. Soon I lost two next games and LI QIAN recovered completely. We started from the very beginning from that point. I knew there is no place for any mistakes any more,” explained HU.

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