Duesseldorf Masters: 17 year old Sophia Klee makes German Champion Nina Mittelham stumblePhoto: Jörg Fuhrmann, Revierfoto
Top favourite HAN Ying and, surprisingly, the 7-year-old national youth player Sophia KLEE after an unexpected victory over the German Champion Nina MITTELHAM are the first two semi-finalists at the Women's Duesseldorf Masters. The final decisions in the ARAG CenterCourt will be made tomorrow, Sunday at 10 a.m. All matches of the women's tournament can be seen on Sportdeutschland.TV, Borussia-TV and tischtennis.de in live streaming.
The last game of the opening day was the sporting highlight - and it brought a completely unexpected end to the second seeded Nina MITTELHAM. The number 39 in the world lost out to Sophia KLEE, who is ranked 442 places behind her, by 8:11, 11:8, 12:14, 11:9 and 5:11. The Hessian, winner of the 2017 Europe Youth Top 10 Cadets tournament, kept a clear head even in critical situations. Despite a 10:7 lead and after four missed chances and the defence of a gamepoint from MITTELHAM, she won the important third game to take a 2:1 lead with 14:12. Even the subsequent set equalisation did not break the rhythm of the multiple German Youth Champion.
KLEE herself could hardly believe her success afterwards: "I am a little speechless right now, because I never expected this. I tried to use my chances and it worked. I'm happy about the victory, but I also know how to put it down: At this early stage of the season preparation Nina is far from being at the level she could actually play at.”
Nina MITTELHAM proved to be a fair loser: "I think Sophia played well and deserved to win. I haven't been able to train fully lately. Therefore the result is okay."
As expected, defensive ace HAN Ying, who together with MITTELHAM qualified directly for the quarter-finals with a walk-through in round one, had no problems to overcome the former European U21 champion Chantal MANTZ in three straight games. HAN Ying is happy to play at the Masters, because the last months were completely reduced only to training: "I felt good. Of course the young players have a lot of respect, you could see that. But it's good to play a match to slowly get back into the competition rhythm."
Two more semi-finalists will be determined on Sunday at 10am. In the fight for a place in the final HAN Ying will test the winner of the duel between Berlin's SHAN Xiaona and Luxembourg's Sarah de NUTTE.
SHAN Xiaona said today: "It was a completely new competition atmosphere, everything was somehow unusual. I think that I can improve my performance in the tournament."
Sophia Klee will have to deal with either the world number 54, Barbora BALAZOVA (Slovakia) or her national team colleague YUAN Wan, who was generally satisfied with her first appearance today: "I was a bit nervous at the beginning of the first competition after such a long time, but in the end it was a good game.”
In the morning, the clear favourites in five of six matches in the round of sixteen prevailed. However, Borussia Duesseldorf youth talent Leonie BERGER proved her capacities in the match against the 77th-ranked Sarah de NUTTE. The 2018 German Cadets's Champion delivered an open exchange of blows over long distances at 13:15, 12:10, 10:12 and 9:11 to the experienced Luxembourgian, who breathed a sigh of relief after the match: "I am very happy that I won. It was quite funny to play a match after such a long time. I wasn't excited before the match, but then everything was so quiet in the hall. It's a strange atmosphere you have to get used to. At the beginning, I concentrated all the time to pay attention to the special rules and not wipe my hand at the table. I made too many simple mistakes. After all, it was a very exciting match."
As expected the four DTTB talents Annett Kaufmann, Jele STORTZ, Naomi PRANJKOVIC and Anastasia BONDAREVA paid their dues in the duels with Slovakian Barbora BALAZOVA as well as against the DTTB women's national team players Shan Xiaona, Yuan Wan and Chantal MANTZ. Number 8 seeded Yuki TSUTSUI missed out on a place in the quarter-finals, but the narrow 2-3 defeat to eventual semi-finalist Sophia Klee does not come as a surprise given the balance between the two 2019 European Youth Champions. Yuki TSUTSUI, however, mourned a missed opportunity: "I actually felt quite good and had a good start. I was leading 10:7 in the second set, I should have closed that, then things would have been different.”
Duesseldorf Masters, Women's Tournament (July 4-5)
Round of 16, July 4th
Han Ying GER (settlement position 1), bye
Chantal Mantz GER (7) - Anastasia Bondareva GER 3:0 (6,6,1)
Sarah de Nutte LUX (5) - Leonie Berger GER 3:1 (13,-10,10,9)
Shan Xiaona GER (3) - Jele Stortz GER 3:0 (5,5,3)
Barbora Balazova SVK (4) - Annett Kaufmann GER 3:0 (8,6,5)
Yuan Wan GER (6) - Naomi Panjkovic GER 3:0 (4,2,10)
Yuki Tsutsui GER (8) - Sophia Klee GER 2:3 (8,-10,6,-8,-7)
Nina Mittelham GER (2), bye
Quarterfinal, 4 July
Han Ying GER - Chantal Mantz GER 3:0 (7,4,7)
Nina Mittelham GER - Sophia Klee GER 2:3 (-8,8,-12,9,-5)
Quarterfinal, July 5
Shan Xiaona GER - Sarah de Nutte LUX, 10 am
Barbora Balazova SVK - Yuan Wan GER, directly after, but not before 10.35
Semifinals, July 5
Han Ying GER - Shan Xiaona GER or Sarah de Nutte LUX, immediately following, but not before 11.35
Sophia Klee GER - Barbora Balazova SVK or Yuan Wan, directly after, but not before 12.10
Final, July 5