Euro-Asia All Stars Challenge

Glittering Europe call the shots in Qingdao

First day of the 2013 Asia-Europe All Stars Series opening leg in Qingdao concluded with the 3:2 advantage for the Old Continent. It was great day for European players, but one victory outshined all others. Vladimir SAMSONOV beat reigning Olympic and Worl

First day of the 2013 Asia-Europe All Stars Series opening leg in Qingdao concluded with the 3:2 advantage for the Old Continent. It was great day for European players, but one victory outshined all others. Vladimir SAMSONOV beat reigning Olympic and World Champion ZHANG Jike in front of his hometown crowd.

Tomorrow the battles will continue (14h00 local time, 6:00 CET). Jun MIZUTANI will meet Marcos FREITAS, JIANG Tianyui will play against Adrian CRISAN, CHUANG Chih Yuan against Vladimir SAMSONOV, ZHANG Jike against dimitrij OVTCHAROV and JOO Se Hyuk against CHEN Weixing.

Jun MIZUTANI – CHEN Weixing 3:1 (8:11, 11:8, 16:14, 11:9) – ASIA-EUROPE 1:0
In the high quality match with plenty of nice points and very attractive exchanges of strokes CHEN Weixing of Austria gave guests good start against Jun MIZUTANI of Japan. Experience prevailed in the first set, but Jun was soon on his feet and strikes back by same force. The real beauty of the match was the third game. The game was leveled numerous times but at the end MIZUTANI has taken control to win it.

In the last game he preserved cool head and sealed the match. CHEN´s defencive style of play with unexpected counter-attacks gave him advantage 9:7 in fourth game but that was all. Jun put four points in the row to ensure 1:0 lead fro Team Asia In three previous occasions Jun played in the Asian leg of the Event each time and in 2010 he was the man drawn to play the additional match that brought victory to Asia in Beijing. At the same year in Belgium’s Mons CHEN also played but failed to record the victories over TANG Peng and CHUAN Chih Yuan.

JOO Sehyuk – Adrian CRISAN 0:3 (6:11, 5:11, 10:12) – ASIA-EUROPE 1:1
Romania’s Adrian CRISAN World’s no 19, took the first game by the storm, leving Korea’s JOO Sehyuk currently ranked at position no. 13 at the World’s rankings, with only six points. Adrian put his best attacking skills in function to nullify JOO’s defencive play. In the same rhytm CRISAN ensured the 2:0 lead leaving his adversary without any chances. Adrian started with 8:2, before moving to 8:5 and finally 11:05. JOO was forced to change his tactic, tried with more aggressive approach, but failed to produce any change.

The match continued at break-neck pace in the third game but this time it was JOO who led throughout. In the closing stages Adrian fought back and won the second match.
In previous six, out of eight occasions, JOO Sehyuk was a member of the Asian team. He was part of Asian success since the first Event in 2009, and only missed the heat last year. On the other side Adrian joined the team for a first time in 2011 and in the very same year he played against JOO in Bejing. In that duel JOO prevailed.

ZHANG Jike – Vladimir SAMSONOV 2:3 (12:10, 11:13, 9:11, 12:10, 8:11)- ASIA-EUROPE 1:2
The reigning Olympic and World champion, China’s ZHANG Jike, currently placed at position no. 3 at the World rankings, suffered from the shocking defeat on his second appearance at the at the Asia-Europe All Stars Series. Like two years earlier in Beijing he meet Belarus star Vladimir SAMSONOV, World’s no. 11, the player who never missed competition in this Event.

In between those two encounters ZHANG and SAMSONOV also played against each other in the Round of 16 of the Olympic Games in London 2012. In that match Belarus player led 3:2, before he eventually suffered 3:4 defeat. Now SAMSONOV had his revenge.

The duel started with the furious 5:1 lead for SAMSONOV and at 4:1 we saw Jike smashing one high ball out. However, even 7:2 advantage was not enough for Vladi to seal that game. ZHANG recovered to win the opening game 12:10.

Once again in the second set it was SAMSONOV who led, but ZHANG recovered. However in the closing stages pendulum swung. Vladi was 5:1 up, than 8:4, and after 8:8, both players played with high risk on every point. Great flip and forehand top-spin brought Vladi equalizer on 1:1 by 13:11.

With the momentum still with him after that late rush SAMSONOV took the match under control and sealed the third game in his favor. In fourth game with 3:1 and 8:3 advantage it seemed like match was over in favor of SAMSONOV, but Jike came-back from 9:4 to 9:8 and ROSSKOPF called for time-out. Unfortunately game finished with 12:10 for Jike who leveled at 2:2. It is clear that simple points could not be won against such Champion.

In the decisive game the players played point by point until 5:5, than it was 7:5 for Jike and turn-over from Vladi on 10:7. At 10:8 SAMSONOV had another one time last services and second match-ball was good one to beat Zhang Jike and bring the lead to Team Europe on 2:1.

CHUANG Chih-Yuan – Dimitrij OVTCHAROV 0:3 (13:15, 8:11, 8:11) – ASIA-EUROPE 1:3
Year earlier in Tianjin at the 2012 Asia-Europe All Stars Event CHUANG Chih-Yuan beat Dimitrij OVTCHAROV in straight games, this season Germany’s star revenge was by same force.

It was high speed “boom-boom” table tennis at its best. Both players were at the top of the game, but in the exchanges of fast strokes Dimitrij was slightly better. He clinched the opening game by narrowest margin.

In next Dimitrij settled more and more in position of first attack and this initiative brought him 11:8 in second game and 2:0 lead. After 8:3 in the third game it was question of minute when OVTCHAROV sealed the victory.

JIANG Tianyi – Marcos FREITAS 3:2 (17:15, 9:11, 15:13, 10:12, 12:10) – ASIA-EUROPE 2:3
World’s no. 15 JIANG Tianyui was up against world’s no. 22 Marcos FREITAS. In another thrilling full distance duel JIANG emerged as a winner. It was highly unusual game since both players are left-handers.

It was the Hong Kong’s player who won the first set with a tense 17:15 game. However, Marcos fighting spirit was there for all to see as he worked his way back into the match in the open second game. The importance of the duel which could bring 4:1 lead to Europe intensified the pressure. It was the match where the tactics played important role.

In the third game JIANG had 7:5 advantage but Marcos prevailed at 8:7, 9:8, before the game leveled to 10 all, 11 all,12 all and finished finally at 15:13 for Jiang. JIANG was much in charge in the fourth game by leading 9:7, but it was Marcos who reached set ball and soon gained the decisive game.

Marcos had great lead  at 8:3, but then Jiang came back to 8:8. At 10:9 Marcos had match point and failed to capitalize on it.

Photo: Vladimir SAMSONOV outshined in Qingdao (courtesy ATTU)

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