International Events

Patrick FRANZISKA lost 3:4 in the semi-final against Harimoto

Photo: WTT

 Patrick FRANZISKA missed entering the final of the $500,000 WTT Championships in Budapest after losing to Tomokazu HARIMOTO by narow margin. H elost in seventh game in a semi-final thriller to the favored Japanese, who is now playing for the title against the Chinese LIN Gaoyuan.

After the Round of 16 triumph over Olympic champion MA Long (China), against whom he had never won a game before, Patrick FRANZISKA had also hoped for the end of the negative series against Tomokazu HARIMOTO. The man from Saarbrücken and the Japanese had faced each other five times before, most recently in the Olympic team semifinals in Tokyo. Although the sixth duel between number 14 and number eight in the world ended in favor of the Asian, FRANZISKA was at 3:11, 11:6, 8:11, 11:6, 5:11, 11:8 and 6:11 only a step away from success. FRANZISKA played against the now 19-year-old Harimoto, once apostrophized as a child prodigy of table tennis, same world-class game at the highest level as against the three-time world champion MA Long and Slovenia's seventh in the world rankings Darko JORGIC .

Alone, the Japanese pushing himself with his loud self-cheers, which are more like screams (FRANZISKA: "That's annoying a bit"), had luck on his side in addition to fantastic skills in the decisive phase of the dramatic exchange of blows. When FRANZISKA slowly but surely seemed to set the course for a place in the final with the equalizer to 5:5 in the seventh and decisive set, HARIMOTO twice helped the edge of the net to break out of the beginning embrace of Europe with the points to 6:5 and 8:5 - Top 16 winners of 2021 to solve again.

Patrick FRANZISKA was annoyed afterwards: "The two net rollers were really very bitter. At that point it was my turn and I had the feeling that I had it now." The fair sportsman Franziska added: "Unfortunately that's how it is sometimes. I could have lost against MA Long for that, then I wouldn't have been in the semifinals today. In the end it always balances out at some point. But it was bitter at the moment of course."

In between, after the end of the third round, which was unfortunately lost 8:11, FRANZISKA had a moment of shock to survive. He had to undergo medical treatment on his neck. The physiotherapist from the Hessen Olympic base, Peter HECKERT, who always accompanies the DTTB team, explained after the match: "Patrick had contracted a blockage in the neck area during a movement in the third set, which we were fortunately able to treat and solve during the breaks in the set, so that he was able to play well." Franziska gave the all-clear: "Sometimes I get that something in my neck tightens, it's not a big deal. But it only hampered me a bit with one or two balls. After treatment by Peter, I was then able to continue playing normally."