Austria’s Women and Croatia’s Men in Round of 16Photo: Rémy Gros ITTF
Perfect 2016 World Team Championships
In Group D in Men’s and Women’s Events, both team of Russia at the Perfect 2016 World Team Championships fought for the third position in the Group which led them to the Round of 16. In addition in both groups Hong Kong and Korea sought their way to the top in direct clashes for the top positions.
Korea in Men’s, whilst Hong Kong in Women’s Event topped the Group, whilst in both categories Russia failed to reach position no. three. Croatia’s men and Austria’s women team progressed in next phase from the position that allows them to stay in the run for the medal.
Croatia overcame Russia in thrilling five matches, after Russia recovered from two matches deficit. Andrej GACINA overcame Alexander SHIBAEV and Tomislav PUCAR beat Kirill SKACHKOV before Mikhail PAIKOV set the match into different pace with the victory over Zoran PRIMORAC. Tomislav PUCAR had a chance to seal the math after 2:1 in games against SHIBAEV, but once again Russia fought back and they extended the duel to the decisive match. The suspense did not last long. GACINA showed no mercy and he concluded the duel in straight games.
“We opened the match well and despite the close game we managed to establish the lead. We managed that by stayed calm in the crucial moments of the match. Next two matches that Russia won were also very close, but we did not lost our spirit after they leveled. In my, fifth match, the crucial moment was the second game. I established the 2:0 lead and SKACHKOV could not come back,” explained GACINA.
It is great result for the team who entered the competition as a no. 13 seed.
“We did not set any goals, but the one. We just wanted to present our best table tennis and to give our best in the court. Everything else was irrelevant. Of course now when we won, we are ready for the bigger challenges.”
It was long journey for Austria’s team as well and they did not start it well. Polina MIKHAILOVA beat LIU Jia in very effective way to give Russia dream start. Sofia POLCANOVA leveled the meters by beating Maria DOLGIKH, whilst LI Qiangbing wider the gap with one more further victory over Yana NOSKOVA. MIKHAILOVA’s quality, as she already proved herself as a star of the Russian team at the European Championships in October last year, was not to be denied once again. She showed no mercy against POLCANOVA. However one player was insufficient. In the decisive match DOLGIKH failed to beat LIU Jia.
“I am so happy. By rankings and after our records, NOSKOVA is favourite and I know her backhand is very strong. So I played more to middle and her forehand. It brought the success,” said LI Qianbing.
LIU Jia was delighted after the victory:
“Thanks to my colleagues! They did a great job today. In last match I was very nervous, from first until the last point. So I started too much carefully. From second set I tried to attack with more risk. Luckily it brought the success,” said LIU.