Zhang Jike Simply Awesome as Xu Xin’s Aspirations Lay in Ruins
A display of sheer quality saw Zhang Jike win the all China Men’s Singles semi-final duel at the Evergrande Real Estate Asian Cup in Guangzhou on the evening of Saturday 27th March 2010.
In devastating style, Zhang Jike overcame Xu Xin, the winner earlier in the year of the Men’s Singles title at the highly prestigious Salwa Cup Kuwait OIpen, in four straight games.
Zhang Jike won 11-8, 11-7, 11-6, 11-3.
Angry Young Man
He was simply incredible, unbelievable; poor Xu Xin must have wondered what he done to upset his compatriot!
One day earlier Zhang Jike had left the arena an angry young man having lost to Ko Lai Chak, one day later he took that anger out on Xu Xin!
All’s fair in love and war!
Zhang Jike captured the first game in a fascinating contest between two players who have booked their places in the Chinese Men’s Team for the forthcoming Liebherr World Team Championships in the Russian capital city of Moscow in at the end of May.
In fact they are the only two members of the Chinese Men’s Team assured of a place; to date two selection tournaments have been held; Xu Xin won the first, Zhang Jike the second.
Xu Xin and Zhang Jike are the new stars of Chinese table tennis both are attacking players but that is where the similarity ends.
On the one hand, Xu Xin is the fearsome, powerful left handed penhold grip style attacking player; on the backhand he uses the reverse side of the racket to play his backhand top spin strokes in the guise of Liu Guoliang, Ma Lin and Wang Hao but that is not his forte.
The strength of Xu Xin lies in strength and above all in his quite incredible sideways movement; from left to right or right to left he is like a jaguar searching for its prey.
Conversely, Zhang Jike is as smooth as silk; comfortable from both backhand and forehand; seemingly having more time to play than most mortals with his ability to uses a backhand top spin stroke over the table when returning a short service from any angle being a model for all.
He is Jan-Ove Waldner, Kong Linghui a player of style; comfortable close to the table, devastating at half distance. Arguably the most complete players in the history of table tennis were Jan-Ove Waldner and Kong Longhui; they now have a very serious challenger.
It was Mr Fluency who captured the first two games, his first attack from the backhand directed diagonally across the table to the Xu Xin forehand being a particularly successful weapon.
In the first two games Zhang Jike had made the better start; in the third game Xu Xin returned the complement and led 5-3 but rapier like backhands of which former Russian stars as Stanislav Gomozkov and Anatoli Strokatov (both famed for their backhand) would have stood in awe left the usual sppedy Xu Xin flat footed.
Zhang Jike afforded his compatriot just one more point as he established a three games to nil lead.
If playing perfectly is possible then Zhang Jike was achieving that scenario; he was in the zone, on cloud nine, use whatever phrase describes sheer brilliance.
He established a 5-2 lead in the fouth game, XU Xin called “Time Out”; he needed divine intervention or a miracle.
Neither was forthcoming, Zhang Jike was awesome, breathtaking, fantastic.
Mr fluency was Mr Perfection.