Bastian STEGER unstoppable at Düsseldorf Masters IVPhoto: majo-foto.de
Women's Masters on 4-5 July
Bastian STEGER is the winner of the fourth Duesseldorf Masters. The number 125 in the World defeated Dang QIU in the final in a German duel 11:9 in the seventh and decisive set. The fifth edition will be held from 10 to 12 July after a one-week interruption. But on the first weekend of July there will also be world class table tennis. Then a top-class ladies' field will reach out for its first Masters winner. The tournament will be broadcast live on Sportdeutschland.TV, Borussia-TV and on tischtennis.de
The exciting final in seven high class games set a worthy conclusion behind the fourth Masters at the Arag CenterCourt. Although the 23-year-old penholder player Dang QIU took the lead 2-0 and 3-2 by games, his 16-year-older national team colleague Bastian STEGER fought back. And as he did already in the semi-final against Benedikt Duda in the morning, the experienced player showed very strong nerves in the final phase of the match. Steger was unimpressed by creating an unforced service error at his 9-8 lead in the deciding game and broke the service of the Portugal Open winner twice for winning the next 2 points and the match.
In his first Masters appearance, STEGER scored three consecutive victories over higher-ranked adversaries, despite a long break from competition, with victories over QIU (world ranking 52), DUDA (WR 39) and the Kanak JHA (WR 27). The tournament winner was satisfied with himself, but also praised the opponents.
"It was a close game. In the end, it was only two balls that tipped the scales, just like against Bene. Everyone played extremely well today. We train together every day. There are hardly any secrets left. At this Masters, the happier ending was on my side."
Not happy with his outcome was Dang Qiu, who after his 4-1 defeat by Dimitrij OVTCHAROV two weeks ago, also had to accept a defeat in the final this time.
"We may both be tired and perhaps not as fresh as one might wish in such a situation. But it was a good match, it was very exciting. I'm very disappointed that I couldn't take the chance because I was obviously hoping to win the tournament today. But of course congratulations to Basti."
In the semi finals Germany's aces offered world class performances. First Bastian STEGER lost against the world number 39, Benedikt DUDA, a 3-1 lead and two direct opportunities for a clear 4-1 win, but a little later the Bad Koenigshofener, who is ranked 125th in the world, had a match point against himself in the deciding game at 9-10. However, three points in a row secured the two-time European Championship bronze medallist a place in the final in an exchange of breathtaking rallys. Steger took a deep breath after the narrow victory.
"It was really close. But I could have done it a bit earlier, when I had two match points at 3-1.”
Duda was not entirely unhappy despite his defeat: "It was a bit unfortunate that I lost the fourth game after leading 7-2. But it was a good match. Basti played really well. He deserved to win."
The second preliminary-round match also took a changeable course, but in the end it was still a clear winner. After leading rapidly 3-0, Gruenwettersbach's Dang QIU was unable to prevent the Muehlhausener coming up to 2-3, but Qiu clearly dominated the subsequent sixth game as he had done in the beginning of the match.
Dang QIU said afterwards: "Steffen has played really well all the weeks, but had a bad start today. I was lucky that I could win the first three games so quickly". Steffen Mengel was disappointed: "I can't explain it to myself. I am actually in a good shape, but I had a complete bad start. Nevertheless, I tried to fight my way back into the match. But today I had too many fluctuations and left many good balls behind. So I deserved to lose."
On Tuesday, STEGER and MENGEL had already ensured in the quarter finals that the final race for the tournament victory would be a purely German affair. Bastian STEGER eliminated the top-seeded World Rankings-27 Kanak JHA (USA), Steffen MENGEL did the same against the world number 38, the Egyptian Omar ASSAR, who had reached the final last week. But also the 19-year-old talent Fanbo MENG (Fulda), who in the round of sixteen triumphed over Alberto MINO (Ecuador), who is ranked 76th in the ITTF ranking, made a step into the limelight.
After four tournaments Dimitrij OVTCHAROV leads the overall ranking with 110 points, as in the previous week. He is followed by Dang QIU, who improved to 100 points when he reached the final. Third in the standings is Steffen MENGEL, who now has 60 points. Equally ranked fourth are premiere winner Timo BOLL, the new tournament winner Bastian STEGER, Kanak JHA and Omar ASSAR with 50 points each.
The Duesseldorf Masters, organized by Borussia Düsseldorf with the support of the German Table Tennis Federation, is held almost weekly from June to August at the ARAG CenterCourt in a knockout system with up to 16 world-class players and is intended to shorten the break in competition caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The series will conclude with a final tournament with eight professionals, for which five athletes will qualify by scoring points and three will receive a wildcard.
After four tournaments in a row, the men will take a break next week, but the ladies will enter the Duesseldorf Masters at the ARAG CenterCourt. On Saturday and Sunday (4-5 July), as in the men's event, a field of sixteen players will be mixing world-class-players with hopeful talents on its way to the top. With the world number 25 Han Ying, the German champion Nina Mittelham (WR 39), Shan Xiaona (WR 43), the Slovakian Barbora Balazova (WR 54) and the Luxembourgian Sarah de Nutte (WR 77), a total of seven top 100 players will be competing. All matches of the women can be seen on auf Sportdeutschland.TV, Borussia-TV and tischtennis.de in live streaming.
Duesseldorf Masters, 4th tournament (22./23.6. and 25.6.)
Final, June 25th
Bastian Steger - Dang Qiu 4:3 (-7,-8,15,7,-7,9,9)
Semifinals, June 25
Benedict Duda - Bastian Steger 3:4 (4,-6,-6,-9,14,9,-10)
Dang Qiu - Steffen Mengel 4:2 (3,6,3,-9,-7,4)