RIO 2016 OLYMPIC GAMES
Monday 8th August
Miracle in Rio, Quadri Aruna beats Timo Boll, first African quarter-finalist
Quarter-finalist at the Liebherr 2014 Men’s World Cup in the German city of Düsseldorf to become the first ever African to achieve the feat in the prestigious tpurnament; on the late afternoon of Monday 8th August, Quadri Aruna became the first player from the continent to reach the same round at an Olympic Games.
Once again he took a liking for Germany, only in the fourth round of the Men’s Singles event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, his adversary was from the European.
Sensationally, just one day short of his 28th birthday, he beat Timo Boll, the former World no.1 and the no.10 seed in Rio de Janeiro,
Incredibly, Quadri Aruna withstood a brave recovery by Timo Boll after winning the first three games to secure a six games success (12-10, 12-10, 11-5, 3-11, 5-11, 11-5).
“It’s a miracle; this is amazing, I don’t know what to say, my fans made the victory possible”, said a dazed Quadri Aruna. “Thank you for all the Brazilian spectators for their support; they gave me so much energy; this feels so good, it is a dream come true that I am in the quarter-finals.”
High energy Quadri Aruna won the first three games; we waited for the storm to subside, it did not, the Nigerian was relentless.
“I was able to receive his service well; after I won the first three games I could not find many chances to attack; if I have lost the sixth game I think in the seventh I would had no chance”, added Quadri Aruna who surprised me somewhat with his tactics.
“It was better for me attacking his forehand than his backhand; he was very strong from the backhand”, explained Quadri Aruna; the Timo Boll forehand is known for being devastating, more spin on the first three attacks than virtually any other player in the world.
“He has surprised a lot of people, I knew he was good coming into the match, I just have to say well played”, said a gallant Timo Boll. “His whole game is different, so it took me awhile to work it out; once I was three-nil down I started to get more into the match but it was already too late."
Disappointment for Timo Boll who as always conducted himself in a true sportsmanlike manner; it was not his day, the day belonged to Quadri Aruna.
“Unbelievable, just unbelievable”, concluded Quadri Aruna who wrote his name in the history books of the Olympic Games.
A first for Africa, one of the biggest upsets in the history of the table tennis at the Olympic Games, if not the biggest!
RIO 2016 OLYMPIC GAMES
Monday 8th August
Successful Start for London Medallist, Close Call for Dimitrij Ovtcharov
Medallists four years ago in London, China’s Zhang Jike and Germany’s Dimitrij Ovtcharov both made successful starts to their campaigns in the Men’s Singles event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
On the early afternoon of Monday 8th August, Zhang Jike, the no.2 seed and gold medallist in England’s capital city, imposed his authority from the very first point.
He beat Chinese Taipei’s Chen Chien-An, the no.25 seed and thus gained revenge for the defeat he had suffered earlier this year when losing in the first round of the Men’s Singles event at the 2016 ITTF World Tour Korea Open.
In Korea he had experienced defeat by the very narrowest of margins (11-5, 11-7, 6-11, 11-9, 8-11, 9-11, 15-13); in Rio de Janeiro, he extracted vicious revenge. He beat Chen Chien-An in four straight games (11-5, 13-11, 12-10, 11-7).
“We have played against each other before this year and we have had our wins and losses, so we are familiar with each other’s playing style, I pleased with how I played today”, said Zhang Jike, who was very much on duty in the theatre he enjoys.
“Playing at the Olympic Games is still different as compared to other events”, he added. “The desire for victory at the Olympic Games is definitely higher when compared to ITTF World Tour events; it was the same for Chen Chien-An, we are both playing on the Olympic stage, giving our full focus for every point, it really depends on how you keep yourself on top of your game.”
Success without drama for Zhang Jike, it was not so for Dimitrij Ovtcharov, the no.3 seed; he needed the full seven games to beat Qatar’s Li Ping, the no.21 seed (8-11, 11-4, 11-9, 7-11, 11-5, 9-11, 11-9).
"The first match is always difficult and even more difficult when against a player who has already played a match”, said Dimitrij Ovtcharov. “I have practised and prepared but coming into the hall with all the noise and the atmosphere created, it takes time to adjust.”
Most certainly Dimitrij Ovtcharov faced a most worthy opponent; Li Ping won the Mixed Doubles title at the H.I.S. 2009 World Championships in Yokohama in partnership with Cao Zhen.
“Tactically and technically Li Ping was very good; he returned service well and we know each other well, before we came here we practised together in Germany”, added Dimitrij Ovtcharov. “In the sixth game I led 7-3 and lost; that made it extra hard for the seventh.”
Success for Dimitrij Ovtcharov and Zhang Jike, as matters commenced in the lower half of the draw in the third round of the Men’s Singles event, there were also wins for Japan’s Koki Niwa and Hong Kong’s Wong Chun Ting.
According to status, Wong Chun Ting, the no.6 seed, beat Canada’s Eugene Wang (11-8, 11-8, 11-5, 11-9); conversely, Koki Niwa caused a minor surprise; he accounted for Austria’s Stefan Fegerl, at no.16 seeded one place higher.
Koki Niwa won in five games (11-7, 11-8, 11-9, 4-11, 11-5).
Improved, fact endorsed, Cheng I-Ching Secures Third Round Win
One of the most improved players in recent times; that fact was endorsed in the third round of the Women’s Singles event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on the morning of Monday 8th August.
Chinese Taipei’s Cheng I-Ching, the no.7 seed, beat Viktoria Pavlovich of Belarus in a full distance seven games encounter (7-11, 11-7, 11-9, 8-11, 7-11, 11-7).
The win was as seeding predicted but the more importantly, the win underlines the progress being made by Cheng I-Ching. It underlines the fact not only in terms of ranking but also against Viktoria Pavlovich and her defensive style of play.
Four years ago when the Olympic Games were being staged in London, Cheng I-Ching stood at no.66 on the Women’s World Rankings; at the start of this year in January, she was at no.35, now in August she is at a career high no.10,
Furthermore, in World ranking tournaments, on the most recent four occasions when she has played Viktoria Pavlovich she has lost. On the ITTF World Tour, she was beaten in 2011 in China and the following year in Germany, before experiencing defeat at the GAC Group 2013 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals.
Meanwhile more recently at the ZEN-NOH 2014 World Team Championships, she experienced defeat.
“Today whenever possible I tried to play to the middle”, said Cheng I-Ching who always answers with a mischievous grin crossing her face.
“I won because I’m younger than her!” smiled Cheng I-Ching who is 24 years old as opposed to Viktoria Pavlovich who is from a generation earlier; she is 38 years of age.
“Overall I think I am now better against defensive players because I am now more patient”, added Cheng I-Ching. “In the seventh game I made such a good start but I really can explain that, I just played.”
In the seventh game she won nine of the first ten points!
Success for attack against defence; there was also success for the reverse scenario and an upset. DPR Korea’s Ri Myong Sun, the no.21 seed, beat Germany’s Petrissa Solja, the no.10 seed (11-5, 11-7, 11-6, 11-6).
“This is my first big match here in Rio”, said Ri Myong Sun who one round earlier had beaten Hungary’s Petra Lovas in four straight games (11-5, 11-7, 11-6, 11-6).
“I played well against the German player to win and I am very pleased”, concluded Ri Myong Sun.
An impressive display from Ri Myong Sun, it was the same from Austria’s Liu Jia, the no.16 seed and eventually from Singapore’s Feng Tianwei, the no.2 seed after a very tentative start.
Liu Jia beat Li Jiao of the Netherlands, the no.20 seed (7-11, 11-8, 15-13, 11-9, 11-5), before Feng Tianwei recovered from a two nil to games deficit to overcome Luxembourg’s 53 year old Ni Xia Lian.
“It’s my first match, so my body still feels a little tense”, said Feng Tianwei. “Her playing style is very unique, I think she’s probably the only one in the world playing that style, so I’m not used to it; I found it hard to find my rhythm in the first two games, she was playing very well, so it was really tough for me.”
The pen-hold grip blocking style of play with different surfaces on each side of the racket is from a bye gone era but it one that has served Ni Xialian very well.
“She is a great player”, concluded Feng Tianwei; she is also a great person, she played throughout with a smile on her face.