China in final despite England’s brave performancePhoto: Rémy Gros ITTF
2018 ITTF Team World Cup
Paul DRINKHALL, Liam PITCHFORD and Sam WALKER gave a brave performance in the semi final of the Men’s event at the 2018 ITTF Team World Cup in London’s Copper Box arena, but China was at the top of their game. They succeeded in straight matches.
China made a dream start with Rotterdam’s 2011 World Champions MA Long and XU Xin on duty. They overcame Paul Drinkhall and Sam Walker in straight games (11-2, 11-7, 11-4).
FAN Zhendong, in next duel, faced very determened Liam PITCHFORD. In both the first and third games Liam PITCHFORD steamed into a 5-1 lead; in the opening game, he maintained the advantage to set the Copper Box alight; in the third game Fan Zhendong reduced the arrears at 6-5; Marcus SJÖBERG, the England coach, called “Time Out”. A wise move but Fan Zhendong was the eventually beneficiary.
Undoubtedly, Liam PITCHFORD was playing the best table tennis of his life. In the fourth game he led 8-5; again as in the previous game, the master of putting one more ball on the table than your opponent, recovered. He lost just one more point, a four games win was recorded (8-11, 11-3, 11-9, 11-9).
“I have put in a lot of hard work in training. I knew I could perform well at this level and I am happy with my results in this competition. Against FAN Zhendong, I had chances in the second and third games but he is such a good player. I am happy with the way I played against him. To get a medal in this competition was a bit surprise. It is a good situation for us going into another big event, the Commonwealth Games in Australia,” said Liam PITCHFORD
MA Long beat Sam Walker in straight games (11-5, 11-1, 11-2) in the final encounter.
Victory for China, a place in the final for the ninth time.