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ITTF World Tour: Vladi and Szocs on top

At the top-class Qatar Open in Doha, a $ 220,000 valuable tournament of the ITTF World Tour Super Series, Tibhar players have set a course and can win two titles. How did Vladimir Samsonov, who does not look 38, but to the contrary seems to be getting better as time goes by, shine in the men’s singles. The world ranking number four „Vladi“ won the tournament in Doha, for the second time by the way after 2003.

After commanding victories over Li Hu (Singapore), Bastian Steger (Germany), Joao Monteiro (Portugal) and a very strong 4: 0 against the world ranking number 2 Make Chuang Chih-Yuan (Taiwan) he reaches the final to cope with a very high hurdle, ITTF ranking 6, Ovtcharov. The tall, likeable White Russian, who is one of the best and most popular table tennis players in the world for two decades, was the reigning European champion in Doha. He acted with the necessary bite, but also large nerves and tactical cleverness to make his triumph perfect. In five sets (11: 9, 11: 8, 15:13, 6:11, 11: 9) he was impressive, especially in the narrow passage. This was also the last passage in which Ovtcharov, although behindhand with a 3: 7 but equalizing 9:9 in the meantime, had to cope with a wide-awake Samsonov who found the right answer at the right moment and finished the set 11:9.

In no match the deserved winner of the tournament had to leave more than one set – an exceptionally strong performance. And despite hip problems, „Vladi“ however, thanks to the good work of a Russian physiotherapist in the tournament, was pleased about the unplanned title: „I had not really expected to win here this year, but it ran perfectly for me and I played from the start of the tournament very well.“ The ITTF-record holder, for whom this is the 27th World Tour victory of his very successful career, added: „The final was not easy for both of us, because Dima and I play in the same team and everyone knows the strengths and weaknesses of the other very closely.

But I was clearly better this time.“

Bojan Tokic with good performance
Bojan Tokic, Slovenian Bundesliga player of 1. FC Saarbrücken TT, drew sympathy at the Persian Gulf. Tokic, who remained without dropping a set in the qualifications, met in the first round the Nigerian Aruna Quadri, crowd favorite of the World Cup 2014 in Dusseldorf, and left no chance to his opponent, with a non-appealing score of 4:1. In the second round he had to admit defeat, against one of the tournament favorites, Chuang Chih-Yuan. Samsonov and Tokic also played the double together, but shortly failed in the quarterfinals against the Brazilian pair Calderano / Tsuboi.

U-21 triumph for Bernadette Szocs
The 19-year-old Romanian Bernadette Szocs played an excellent tournament. Number 5 at world ranking -73rd, she surprisingly won the Under-21 competition. After a clear knockout victory over Huang Yu-Chiao (Taiwan), she met in the quarterfinals the top favorite Doo Hoi Kem (Hong Kong) and after a 0:2 backup managed to win against her opponent in 5 sets.

Now the way was free. In the semifinals Szocs left no hint of chance to Zhou Yihan (Singapore) and reached the final to meet against number 3 at world rankings-48. Lin Ye, also from Singapore. At the U21 ranking, Lin (13) currently is ten places before Szocs (23).

And the final was a real thriller with a happy ending for the TIBHAR player Bernadette Szocs, with 11: 7, 5:11, 10:12, 11: 6 and 14:12, who secured the gold medal. The happy winner testified: „I had nothing to lose, because my opponent is a good deal ranked ahead of me. So I was quite loose and I just tried to play good tennis table. It makes the victory even more satisfying!“

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