Category Archives: match recap

Lucky Fan Zhendong Saves Six Match Points to Defeat Ma Long at China National Games

Down 10-6 in the deciding fifth game, Fan Zhendong needed a huge break to come back and defeat Ma Long in the men’s team final at the China National Games. He received exactly that as he won four net balls in the last eight points of the match and saved five match points, taking the game 13-11 and the match 11-7, 8-11, 7-11, 12-10, 13-11. Combined with a missed step-around forehand kill while up 10-9 and 2-1 in games, Ma ended up failing to convert on all six of his match points.

The quality of play appeared to be quite low during the first couple games, but both players seemed to take safer shots in the last game and a half, resulting in several longer exciting rallies. Having just peaked for the Olympics and then undergone a strict quarantine upon returning to China, neither player may have been in top shape, and Ma went as far as to pull out of the men’s singles event due to injury maintenance. Additionally, all players at the tournament appeared to struggle adapting to the increased elevation of more than 1000 meters in Shanxi.

Fan’s 3-2 victory over Ma sealed Fan’s Team Guangdong a 3-1 victory over Ma’s Team Beijing 3-1 in the gold medal match of the team event at the China National Games. In the first match of the team match-up, Fan first defeated Beijing’s Wang Chuqin 3-0. Ma Long leveled the score to 1-1 with a 3-0 victory over Guangdong’s Zhou Qihao, but Guandong took a 2-1 lead as Guandong’s Lin Gaoyuan defeated Beijing’s Yan An 3-1. Fan’s 3-2 win against Ma gave Guandong the win and the gold medal.

Given that Ma will not play in the men’s singles event, table tennis fans will need to wait until the World Championships in November to see the next chapter of the Ma Long vs Fan Zhendong rivalry.

The full match can be watched on 247 Table Tennis and Malong Fanmade’s Youtube Channels.

Game 1

The match started out with two missed short flicks from Ma followed by a missed short flick by Fan. Fan then hit several winners while Ma’s backhand appeared to be a bit off as one backhand roll hit the edge of his paddle and another roll dribbled straight down into his side of the table, giving a Fan an early 7-3. Ma was able to narrow the lead down to 9-7 with several big forehands, but he then pushed a serve return into the net, giving Fan a 10-7 lead. Fan then won another backhand-backhand rally to take the first game 11-7.

Game 2

The relatively low quality of play continued into game 2. Fan built an early 5-2 lead, with both of Ma’s points coming from errors from Fan, including another strange point where the ball appeared to dribble off Fan’s backhand straight into his side the table. Fan’s backhand then appeared to completely abandon him as he missed a combinations of backhand blocks, counters, pushes, and openings to allow Ma to go on a 9-3 run and win the second game 11-8.

Game 3

Fan’s backhand continued to fail him in game 3. He lost a backhand-backhand rally and missed a long backhand opening to dig himself into an early 4-1 hole. Ma was able to extend the lead to 6-2 thanks to a pretty chop block and another high push from Fan. Fan was able to level the score to 7-7, but two of the five points he scored in his comeback were due to pretty fast counters, and the remaining three were due to errors from Ma as Fan’s signature backhand roll continued to be non-existent.

Fan then missed a short backhand opening, missed a backhand block, lost a backhand-backhand battle, and then missed another backhand opening to drop four straight points to give Ma the third game 11-7.

Game 4

The fourth game opened with more errors as Ma and Fan each missed two backhand openings in the first eight points. However, despite the errors, Fan’s backhand seemed to be in slightly better form compared to earlier as he was able to land just enough openings and counters to build an early 5-4 lead. Ma then landed two big forehand kills to take a 6-5 lead, prompting Fan to call time-out.

Fan tied it up at 6-6 with a fast down-the-line backhand block after Ma stepped around, but he again yielded the lead with a missed backhand opening against a long serve. Fan was able to get in a small rhythm as he won three straight points off of two pretty rallies and a quality down-the-line backhand opening to go up 9-7.

Ma responded with a run of his own as he landed a big forehand kill and won a very long backhand-backhand rally to level it at 9-9. Ma then landed an ambitious chop block to take match point at 10-9. Fan pushed the ball slightly high but wide to Ma’s backhand on the next point, and Ma’s attempt at a step around kill sailed long to level it at 10-10.

Fan then landed another quality down-the-line backhand opening against the serve to go up 11-10, and in the next point the ball dribbled straight down off Ma’s racquet in the middle of a rally again as Fan took the fourth game 12-10.

Game 5

Both players appeared to be completely in rhythm as game five treated the audience to a series of long rallies. Ma won four straight points early in the game thanks to a series of ambitious step-around forehand kills to take a 7-2 lead. Fan responded with a couple of nice points of his own, but he made several pushing errors as Ma was able to maintain a 10-6 lead for quadruple match point.

With the match almost out of sight, Fan started taking some extremely ambitious shots that all landed as he came leveled the score to 10-10. Fan missed an opening to give Ma his sixth match point at 11-10, but Fan won an ensuing pretty backhand rally to level the score at 11-11 before taking the match at 13-11. 

However, arguably the biggest key to Fan’s comeback was his extremely lucky break: Fan caught four net balls in the last eight points of the match. Coupled with a couple risky shots from Fan that panned out, Ma has to be shaking his head at how this match ended.

Check out video hilights below. Footage courtesy of Malong Fanmade Channel:

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Kanak Jha Upsets Mattias Falck In USA’s Losing Effort to Sweden

Sweden defeated USA 3-1 in the opening round of 16 of the men’s team event at the Tokyo Olympics. Sweden won quite comfortably, with Kristian Karlsson and Anton Kaellberg defeating Zhou Xin and Nikhil Kumar 3-0 in doubles, Kaellberg defeating Zhou 3-0 in singles, and Karlsson defeating Kanak Jha 3-0 in singles. Sweden will face Japan in the quarter-finals.

However, Jha was able to pull off a 3-1 upset against Falck in the match between the two ace players (i.e. the players that play two singles matches). We provide a full recap of the match below.

Game 1

Jha built an early 3-1 lead in the first game off of two pet plays that he would rely on throughout the match: a long fast serve to the elbow and a slow opening to Falck’s elbow.

However, Jha made a slew of errors including a couple of missed backhand openings, a push into the net, and a missed forehand flick to find himself down 7-5.

At 7-5, Jha then missed a block from the elbow and a backhand counter-roll to fall into a deeper 9-5 hole. Jha won a backhand-backhand rally, but missed another counter into the net to go down 10-6. Falck then missed a backhand roll into the net, and then Jha got a bit lucky as Falck missed a backhand loop against a high-short push from Jha, and Jha won another net ball to close the gap to 10-9. On the fourth game point, Falck surprised Jha with a deep long push to Jha’s forehand. Jha was able to land a decent quality loop wide to Jha’s forehand, but he was not able to recover in time as he missed the follow-up backhand kill, giving Falck the first game 11-9.

Game 2

A series of ambitious shots paid off for Jha early in game 2 as he landed two forehand flick kills, a hard backhand counter-roll wide, and hard loop to Falck’s elbow in the first ten points. Coupled with his usual pet plays, Jha was able to take a commanding 8-2 lead in game 2.

Falck tried to switch things up with a backhand serve down 8-2. He won the first point to make it 8-3 and then threw away any possible momentum by missing his next serve. Falck missed yet another long fast serve return from the middle to make it 10-3.

Jha then flicked into the net to make it 10-4, and despite getting a net ball on the next point, lost another backhand-backhand rally to make it 10-5. Falck then won another two points off aggressive responses to Jha’s chiquita, making it 10-7.

Jha called time-out and came back with a half-long serve to the forehand that he had previously not yet served into the net; however, Falck gave an equally surprising soft open down-the-line to the backhand, and Jha blocked it into the net. On the next point, Jha pushed the ball half-long to Falck’s forehand again, Falck opened to Jha’s backhand again, and this time Jha was able to land in a backhand counter-roll that Falck hit into the net, giving Jha the second game 11-8.

Game 3

Falck won the first point of the third game with a nice rally from far behind the table, and then Jha missed a chiquita to give Falck a 2-0 lead. Jha then proceeded to win two straight points off slow spins, two straight points off of nice forehand winners, and two straight points off of wide long fast serves that Falck hit out.

Falck and Jha were able to hold their own serve on the next eight points (with Jha receiving some help from an edge-ball), giving Jha a 10-6 advantage. Falck won another lucky point of his own to help narrow the gap to 10-9. However, he pushed Jha’s next serve into the net to lose the game 11-9, resulting in another failed comeback and a 2-1 lead for Jha in games.

Game 4

Jha and Falck exchanged several missed openings and first blocks to start game 6 as Jha built an early 5-4 lead, prompting Falck to call time-out. After the time-out, Jha and Falck had a nice exchange of well-placed shots, with Jha coming out on top with the 6-4 lead.

Falck was then able to go on a 4-1 mini-run to take an 8-7 lead thanks to two missed openings from Jha and a pretty long rally from way behind the table from Falck. Jha then ripped a half-long serve on the next point to level it at 8-8. Jha won the next point thanks to his bread-and-butter long fast serve to the elbow to go up 9-8.

Jha then gave a long serve and a half-long push to Falck’s elbow on the next two points. Falck, who had mostly been stepping around to take the slower elbow shots with his forehand earlier in the match, stepped to the right to take two surprising big backhands. Jha missed both blocks, giving Falck a 10-9 advantage.

Jha saved one game point with an opening to the elbow, Falck earned himself another game point with a long rally, and then Jha saved another game point with an opening to the elbow, making it 11-11.

Jha and Falck exchanged missed openings to keep it level at 12-12. Jha then got a net ball during a backhand-backhand exchange to take match point. He was then able to convert match point with a wide forehand kill against Falck’s opening from the elbow. Jha won the game 14-12 and the match, leveling the team match score at 1-1.

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Ma Long Defeats Fan Zhendong to Win Olympic Gold

Ma Long defeated Fan Zhendong 4-2 (11-4, 10-12, 11-8, 11-9, 3-11, 11-7) to become the first male table tennis player to win two Olympic singles gold medals.

Before the match, Ma noted that Fan was the favorite, so he had no pressure and just to go out and fight. Ma also commented that he indeed showed more initiative and agressiveness in the match; this may have been reflected in the early 6-0 lead that Ma jumped to in the first game of the match

Post-game Fan Zhendong did not appear completely satisfied with the result, saying, “I felt like Ma Long controlled the situation today. I had chances to take control of the situation, especially in the third and fourth game, but I wasn’t able to…I wasn’t able to find my game today. Winning the second game was a miracle, but in the third game I wasn’t still relaxed or positive enough, so in the end I wasn’t able to take advantage of the opportunity.”

When asked if Ma Long was the greatest of all time, Fan replied that it’s hard to compare across eras, but at least in this generation, Ma Long is the greatest.

Dimitrij Ovtcharov defeated Lin Yun-Ju 4-3 to win the bronze medal.

Unfortunately, we will not be providing a recap for this match. Should we get access to a high-quality recording, we look forward to taking a closer look at what happened in this match. In the meantime, check out our recap of the women’s singles final.

If you liked this post, please share it with your friends and follow Edges and Nets on Facebook Instagram, and Twitter to stay updated. Check out the rest of our Olympic coverage.

If you are based in the United States, be sure to also check out our exclusive interview with Kanak Jha and a tournament that Edges and Nets will participate in hosting in San Diego in mid-August.

Chen Meng Defeats Sun Yingsha 4-2 to Clinch Olympic Gold

After Sun’s backhand block sailed off the table at match point to deliver Chen Meng the Olympic gold medal, an elated Chen let out a loud cho-lae and immediately went over to hug coach Ma Lin. Chen then went over to give a disappointed Sun a hug, and the gold and silver medalist of the Olympic table tennis women’s singles event took a picture with the Chinese flag.

After dropping the first game, Chen was able to come back with extremely solid play as she took the match 4-2 (9-11, 11-6, 11-4, 4-11, 11-4, 11-9). After the match, Chen said, “Now that the match is finally over, I feel like I can finally laugh. “

“Now I feel normal, like I just finished a match, but during the match I was so nervous.”

“I may not have looked that nervous [compared to Sun Yingsha], but I was very nervous, because I have given so much, and she has given so much, everyone really wants the gold. But during the match, I maybe executed better than her, and I think my mentality is more experienced than her too.”

“I think Sha sha played okay today, and I played okay too. To be honest, I don’t think today’s match was pretty to watch, because outside of the first and last game, which were 11-9, the other games were not close, and in the middle we had a lot of errors and mistakes. I think either result [win or lose] of today’s match was reasonable, but in the end I think I was more experienced.”

A gracious Sun said she was satisfied with the result too: “I think I played okay today. Even though I lost, everything I did during my preparations and training, I was able to execute today. Perhaps my skills are just a bit short.”

“I played pretty aggressively the first game, but something about my rhythm just didn’t feel quite right in the next two games.”

“I really have no regrets. I played well, but Meng is better than me…If if I did have regrets, it’s that I didn’t win the finals, but really I gave it my all. I played my own style and to my level, and I have tried my best. The road ahead is still very long. I hope I will also realize my dream!”

Ultimately, the stable Chen held a slight edge on pushing quality and consistency and a small but noticeable advantage on the ever-present backhand-backhand rallies. Sun tried to disrupt things with faster and more aggressive off-the-bounce attempts at winners, but each time it felt like Chen simply took a step back, stuck her racquet up, and blocked back almost everything Sun threw at her.

Sun, who had until the finals not dropped a single game, was still able to push Chen to her limit. Although it felt like Chen was strongly favored to win starting roughly around when she won a critical long rally at 6-4 in Game 5, the outcome of the match never felt determined until Sun’s final block landed out.

Game 1

Both players exchanged crisp serve and return play and backhand-to-backhand rally play as they opened up the game tied 6-6. Sun then won a very long rally after she was able to get one very quick off-the-bounce winner with her backhand that wide to Chen’s backhand. On the next point, Chen pushed deep to Sun’s backhand, Sun spun the ball up, and Chen missed the forehand counterloop to go down 8-6.

Chen closed the gap to 8-7 with a backhand opening to Sun’s elbow followed by a hard wide backhand roll to the corner. Sun was then able to land a cross-court forehand winner against a long push from Chen on the next point. Chen missed a down-the-line roll on the next backhand-backhand rally to go down 10-7.

Chen was able to save two game points with some impressive blocks, including a saved net ball to make it 10-9. On the third game point, the two players engaged in a long backhand-backhand rally, in which Chen saved a net ball before getting a net ball of her own. Sun fished the net ball up, and Chen missed the step-around kill against the high ball to give Sun the first game 11-9.

Game 2

Despite pushing a serve in to the net on the second point of the game, Chen was able to open an early 3-1 lead thanks to two strong openings and a won backhand-backhand rally following a long fast serve to the elbow by Chen. However, Sun was able to win four points in a row off of two strong openings and two missed openings by Chen, giving Sun a 5-3 lead.

Chen answered with a five-point streak of her own off of quality push play and her staple backhand-backhand game to go up 8-5. Sun was able to take a point back by killing a slow roll by Chen to make it 8-6, but two quality attacks and Sun’s second missed push of the game gave Chen the next three points to take the game 11-6.

Game 3

Chen built an early 6-3 lead as she maintained her slight edge over Sun on the backhand-backhand rallies and pushing consistency—Sun made two pushing errors and Chen made none. Chen missed a step-around forehand on the next point against a well-placed backhand spin from Sun to the elbow to make it 6-4. However, Chen was able to win the next five consecutive rallies to take game 3 at a comfortable score of 11-4.

Game 4

Sun came into the game 4 using a new shovel serve from the forehand corner. It was quite effective, as Chen missed three of her first four serve returns, giving Sun an early 5-1 lead. Sun was able to expand that lead to 7-2 with the help of a net-ball, and a confident Sun was able to take control of the next several backhand-backhand rallies to go up 10-4. Sun rushed a winner and missed to cut it to 10-5, but Chen missed a forehand flick against a high push from Sun on the next point to give Sun the fourth game 11-5

Game 5

Whatever advantage Sun had gained through the new shovel serve in game 4 seemed to completely vanish in game 5 as Chen controlled the serve return with quality short pushes and deep pushes to Sun’s backhand and elbow. Although it felt like Chen was blocking all the would-be winners that Sun was throwing at her, Sun was able to keep the score close at 6-4.

At 6-4, the two engaged in a long rally with Chen grunting hard on the last three to five shots of the game before she eventually was able to grind out the point with a pretty down-the-line backhand roll. This gave Chen Meng a 7-4 lead and all the momentum in the game as she cruised to an 11-4 victory after this point.

Game 6

Chen’s hot streak continued into the first point of game 6 as she blocked back several hard loops from Sun before eventually landing a down-the-line forehand winner. Sun was able to take the next point, but missed a push and then a rushed winner to go down 3-1, prompting her to call time-out.

Chen was able to win a backhand roll-to-roll rally on the very next point to go up 4-1, but a combination of nice winners and backhand-backhand rallies from Sun narrowed the lead to 5-4. Chen then attempted to step around on a shot to the elbow twice—once for a cross-court winner and once for a down-the-line winner—but missed both, giving Sun her first lead of the game at 6-5.

However, Chen was able to regroup and level it back to 7-7. At this point, the nerves may have gotten to both players as Chen missed a push and Sun missed two half-long openings, resulting in a 9-8 advantage for Chen. On the next point, Sun hit several hard loops to Chen, but Chen was able to block everything before Sun rushed a forehand into the net, giving Chen a 10-8 advantage.

Sun saved one match point with a deep push to the elbow that Chen looped out to make it 10-9. Sun tried the same play on the next point, but this time Chen was able to execute an opening to Sun’s elbow. Sun blocked the ball out, giving Chen the game 11-9, the match 4-2, and the Olympic gold medal.

Game Notes

One of the more interesting side-notes in the viewership experience is seeing who spectates the game. While a crowd of Chinese athletes (table tennis and non-table tennis) including an alone and depressed Liu Shiwen came out for the Sun vs Ito semi-final, the stands were quite empty for the China vs China final. The spectators mostly consisted of Chinese coaching staff (e.g. Ma Lin, Li Sun, Liu Guoliang) and two Chinese players—Wang Yidi and Wang Manyu—sitting together. Behind Ma Lin sat an alone and very studious-looking Miu Hirano, who will likely be facing one of the Chen and Sun in the women’s team final.

Chen noted her quarter-final match against Doo Hoi Kem as a scary moment for her in the Olympics: “Because in the process, I ran into a lot of difficulties, especially in the quarter-finals…Afterwards I watched the video and I saw Ma Lin jump around, and I feel like he was even more excited than me…I am very thankful to the coaching staff. If it weren’t for their support that day, I probably would not be able to stand on the podium right now.”

More on Ma Lin, “Coach Ma was very excited, even more excited than me. Especially because I think he had a lot of pressure after losing in mixed doubles… But after winning gold, I feel like we can relax for the next couple days [until the team event].”

When asked what she was going to do after the match, Chen laughed and said, “I don’t know yet. I still have unwashed laundry…maybe admire my medal. It’s pretty heavy.”

The players will not have much time to celebrate as the team event starts in a couple days.

The women’s singles event ended up largely playing to expectations, with the heavy favorite Chen Meng taking gold, Sun Yingsha taking silver, and Mima Ito taking bronze.

If you liked this post, please share it with your friends and follow Edges and Nets on Facebook Instagram, and Twitter to stay updated. Check out the rest of our Olympic coverage.

If you are based in the United States, be sure to also check out our exclusive interview with Kanak Jha and a tournament that Edges and Nets will participate in hosting in San Diego in mid-August.

Sun Yingsha Crushes Mima Ito 4-0 In Olympic Semi-Finals

Sun Yingsha crushed Mima Ito 4-0 (11-3, 11-9, 11-6, 11-4) in the semi-finals in the table tennis women’s singles event at the Tokyo Olympics. Although this match-up was very hyped by this blog and Ito was widely seen as the biggest threat to China at the Olympics, Sun made sure tthat he match was nowhere near competitive. Other than a brief scare in game 2 that Sun was able to take care of with eight straight points, the outcome of the other three games never seemed in doubt once the game passed the half-way point.

Sun’s relentless spins were too much for Ito to handle as Ito missed backhand punch after backhand punch. Ito of course tried to balance the match with her short pips magic tricks, but Sun seemed to be ready for almost all of Ito’s tricks, and when Ito did catch Sun off guard, Sun was able to recover defensively to get back into a spin-to-smack rally that heavily favored Sun.

Sun advances to the finals, where she will play top seed Chen Meng, without even having dropped a single game in this tournament so far.

Game 1

Sun had her absolute way with Ito throughout the first game. Ito was up 2-1, lost eight points in a row to go down 9-2, and then Sun cruised to an 11-3 victory. Sun was appeared to target Ito’s backhand as Ito did not attempt a forehand smash until she was down 9-3. The strategy clearly worked as Ito missed her backhand punches in every way possible: out, into the net, missed cross-court backhands, missed down-the line-backhands, etc.

Game 2

Ito appeared to come into game 2 with a solid serve and receive plan as she landed two fast backhand punches against Sun’s long fast serve (that Sun returned into the net) to go up 2-0. Sun then pushed two of Ito’s short serves to the forehand out to give Ito a 4-0 lead. Ito then caught Sun off guard with a deep push to the backhand on the serve return to go up 5-0. Ito then missed a backhand punch to make it 5-1.

Ito then served two half-long to Sun’s forehands. Sun looped the first one cross, and a ready Ito smashed it back even wider cross for the winner. Sun looped the next one down-the-line, and a waiting Ito punched the ball back and won the point with some help from a net-ball to go up 7-1. Ito then missed two serve returns (one flick and one deep push) to cut the lead to 7-3.

Sun then missed a backhand opening on the next point, and Ito was able to execute a pretty chop block-forehand smash sequence on the next point to go up 9-3.

Ito then missed two backhand punches and another chop block to cut the lead to 9-6. Ito served a short serve to Sun’s forehand, and ready for Sun’s forehand slider to the backhand, stepped around for a forehand opening, but Sun was able to catch a net-ball on rhw block and win the point to cut it to 9-7.

Ito called time-out and came out of the time-out with a slow and heavy side-spin banana flick on the serve return to Sun’s elbow. Sun was caught off guard, but was able to defensively recover and eventually hit a wide arcing shot to Ito’s forehand that Ito hit into the net. Sun was able to take control of the offense on the next two points to take a 10-9 lead, and then Ito nearly whiffed a backhand punch on the next point to give Sun eight straight points and the second game 11-9.

Game 3

Mentally, it seemed that Ito was not as eager to cho in game 3 after the heartbreaking ending to game 2 for her.

Ito opened game 3 with a new long serve to the middle and was able to punch Sun down after she stepped around for a forehand opening. Ito then missed three backhand openings over the next several points, but Sun also missed a backhand block and another long fast serve to the elbow to keep the score tied at 3-3.

Sun then served two straight (i.e. no sidespin) serves, and Ito flicked one out and pushed another one into the net to make it 5-3 Sun. Ito then served two high-toss serves and was able to get a forehand winner on the first one, but Sun was able to counter-spin Ito’s opening on the second to keep the lead at 6-4.

Ito was able to win another quick point with a pretty drop shot on the serve return to cut it to 6-5, but went 1-2 on the next two critical rallies to make it 8-6 Sun. Ito appeared to try her hand at some tricks, but she missed her first attempt at a deep push to make it 9-6, and Sun had no problems with Ito’s funky banana flick on the next point to make it 10-6. Ito tried what appeared to be a new serve on the next point, but Sun had no problem spinning it up, and Ito smashed the ball out to give Sun the third game comfortably 11-6

Game 4

Between Sun’s 3-0 lead and a potentially still lingering aftertaste from Game 2, Ito was unable to figure out a way to disrupt Sun’s rhythm as she spun Ito’s backhand down to dust on point after point to jump to an 8-3 lead. Ito won a point with a down-the-line backhand open to make it 8-4, and Sun immediately called time-out. Ito missed another two smacks to make it 10-4, and then she missed her own serve to give Sun the game 11-4 and the match 4-0.

Other Game Notes

The crowd was significantly fuller (of Chinese athletes from other sports) in today’s matches than in yesterday’s morning matches.

A very sad-looking Liu Shiwen was shown watching the match by herself in the audience.

The British commentator, which we have memed in this space, doubled down on relentlessly explaining why it is important to wipe sweat off the table.

If you liked this post, please share it with your friends and follow Edges and Nets on Facebook Instagram, and Twitter to stay updated. Check out the rest of our Olympic coverage.

If you are based in the United States, be sure to also check out our exclusive interview with Kanak Jha and a tournament that Edges and Nets will participate in hosting in San Diego in mid-August.

Full Recap: Darko Jorgic Powers Through Tomokazu Harimoto 4-3

After pulling off at the time arguably the biggest upset of the table tennis men’s singles event at the Tokyo Olympics in his round of 32 match against England’s Liam Pitchford, Slovenia’s Darko Jorgic struck gold again as he pulled off what is indisputably the biggest upset of the tournament so far with a 4-3 (10-12, 11-9, 11-3, 10-12, 8-11, 11-7, 11-7) win over Japan’s third-seeded Tomokazu Harimoto.

Jorgic will play Taiwan’s Lin Yun-Ju in the quarter-finals at 16:00 local Tokyo time. The full men’s singles bracket and results can be viewed here.

Jorgic’s bread and butter play throughout the match was his backhand serve from his forehand corner (primarily wide to Harimoto’s short forehand) followed by a huge backhand third-ball rip. Harimoto appeared to have figured out how to handle this play in games 4 and 5, but Jorgic was able to adjust appropriately and work in his backhand third-ball attack to take game 6 and work in some additional smart play to take game 7.

In the rallies, Jorgic preferred to take a step back and overpower Harimoto as Harimoto’s speed did not appear to bother him that much.

We present a full recap below.

Game 1

Jorgic opened up the match with his bread-and-butter play as he scored a big backhand winner on his third-ball attack against Harimoto’s short backhand flick to go up 1-0. Harimoto’s service return woes continued in the next service sequence as he pushed a serve return into a net for the first serve and yielded another big backhand opening to Jorgic on the second serve, giving Jorgic a 4-2 lead.

Harimoto and Jorgic continued to exchange rallies and big backhand winners/misses from Jorgic as they worked their way into a 6-6 deadlock.

On Jorgic’s next serve, Harimoto was able to step far enough to the right to get a fast flick going wide off the side of the table. Jorgic, who was likely hunting for the backhand rip, missed his forehand counter, giving Harimoto his first lead of the game at 7-6.

Jorgic was able to quickly reclaim a 9-7 lead with several big backhands again, but a lucky ball from Harimoto helped him break Jorgic’s serve twice to level it at 9-9.

Harimoto’s backhand punch landed out in a backhand-backhand rally to give Jorgic game point, but Jorgic looped Harimoto’s half-long serve out on the very next point as Harimoto leveld the score to 10-10 and let out his first big scream of the match.

Harimoto was able to win the next backhand-backhand rally and landed a down-the-line forehand winner on the next point to take game 1 12-10.

Game 2

Game 2 was largely the same story as game 1: Jorgic landed in big backhand winners on the third ball, missed a few, and Harimoto’s slight advantage on the rallies and his own serve-and-attack helped keep the score tight. Jorgic continued to trust his backhand serve from the forehand corner and did not deviate from this serve even once. A common pattern was for Jorgic to win both points on his two serves, and then Harimoto to win those two points back on his own two serves.

This trend largely continued until Harimoto had serve down 7-9 with a chance to tie it up at 9-9. Harimoto was able to land one big winner to make it 9-8, but when Jorgic popped up his push on the next point, Harimoto missed his attempted winner, giving Jorgic a 10-8 advantage with serve.

Harimoto was able to save one game point after his excellent blocking kept him alive against an onslaught of Jorgic’s powerful loops. However, on the next point, Jorgic served a rare half-long to Harimoto’s wide forehand, and when Harimoto gave a hesitant down-the-line loop, Jorgic was able to land in his patented big backhand winner to take the second game 11-9.

Game 3

Harimoto had no answer for Jorgic and his signature backhand in game 3 as Jorgic won the game trivially 11-3. One of Harimoto’s points was off a lucky net ball, and the other two were nothing remarkable either. Harimoto visibly slumped his shoulders when he pushed a ball into the net to go down 9-3 as Jorgic appeared to dominate him both on the table and in the mind.

Game 4

Harimoto split a pair of points on his own serve to open game 4 at 1-1. Jorgic then landed in two big third-ball backhand rips to go up 3-1. After Harimoto missed another bachkand roll to go down 4-1, his coach called time-out.

Coming out of the tmie-out, Harimoto landed a nice forehand winner on the serve-and-attack, and Jorgic missed his own serve on the next point to put Harimoto right back in the game down 4-3.

However, Jorgic was able to extend his lead back up to 7-4 after Harimoto missed a forehand opening and an attempted wide flick to the forehand. Harimoto popped up a serve return on the next point, but he was able to hunker down and block Jorgic down to keep the lead to a more manageable 7-5.

Harimoto landed in his signature backhand punch winner but missed another, bringing it to 8-6 with Jorgic to serve. Harimoto was able to take a step back and block down Jorgic yet again to bring it to 8-7. Harimoto, who had previously been largely targeting the elbow, went for a down-the-line flick as far to Jorgic’s backhand as possible on the next serve return, and Jorgic missed the third-ball to level it at 8-8.

Harimoto took his first lead of the game after a missed serve return by Jorgic, but Jorgic won the next two points thanks to some solid backhand loops again, giving him a 10-9 lead and a chance to take a 3-1 lead. Harimoto then pulled off his down-the-line flick on the serve return far to Jorgic’s backhand at 9-10 and 11-10. Jorgic missed his third-ball follow-up both times, giving Harimoto the fourth game 12-10.

If Jorgic had lost the match, this game would likely have kept him up at night as he blew a 7-4 lead and missed a serve early in the game.

Game 5

Harimoto looked like he had figured out Jorgic’s serve to start game 5 as a combination of down-the-line flicks to Jorgic’s backhand and his super wide flicks to Jorgic’s forehand prevented Jorgic from landing in his big backhand third-balls.

However, Jorgic also adjusted, mixing in some long serves and anticipating a down-the-line flick from Harimoto on one point, as he level the score to 8-8. Whether due to standard tactical variation or concern that Harimoto had figured out the serve, Jorgic then served two standard forehand pendulum serves on the next service sequence. Harimoto won both points, and then followed it up with a down-the-line forehand winner against a slow chiquita from Jorgic, giving Harimoto the fifth game 11-8 and a 3-2 lead.

Game 6

Harimoto made several big plays and rallies early on, but Jorgic was able to keep his backhand serve fresh, and Harimoto missed three early serve returns, keeping the score tied at 6-6. Harimoto was able to force Jorgic to back off from the table and fish on the next point, but Jorgic landed a nice forehand counter-loop to regain control of the point and take a 7-6 lead. However, on the very next point, it was Jorgic who appeared to have the offensive advantage, but Harimoto blocked him down to level it at 7-7.

Jorgic was then able to land a big backhand rip to go up 8-7, and then he served a heavy long serve down-the-line to Harimoto’s backhand that Harimoto opened straight into the net. Harimoto then gave two low-quality pushes following his own serve, and Jorgic was able to capitalize on both to take game 6 11-7 and force a deciding seventh game.

Game 7

Jorgic hit some smart plays early in Game 7 to go up 4-1, including a a super wide backhand counter to Harimoto’s forehand and a deep push to Harimoto’s backhand that completely stunned Harimoto. However, Harimoto hit a couple nice rallies of his own, and after a pushed serve return into the net by Jorgic leveled the score at 4-4, Jorgic called time-out.

The time-out did not yield any immediate results as Harimoto went up 7-6. Harimoto then again went for his trusty down-the-line backhand flick to Jorgic’s backhand on the next serve return. However, instead of ripping the ball, this time Jorgic executed a soft roll wide to Harimoto’s backhand, and Harimoto was not able to get back in time and hit it back into the net.

Jorgic proceeded to control the points with his backhand for the next several points, and then Harimoto missed one last serve reeturn to give jorgic his fifth straight point and the game 11-6 and the match 4-3.

Jorgic raised his fist in the air, shook hands with Harimoto, and then let out a very delayed scream in celebration after executing the upset of the tournament so far.

Edges and Nets covered this event live, and our notes are posted below. Check back at this site for more live coverage throughout the Olympics.

f you liked this post, please share it with your friends and follow Edges and Nets on Facebook Instagram, and Twitter to stay updated. Check out the rest of our Olympic coverage.

If you are based in the United States, be sure to also check out our exclusive interview with Kanak Jha and a tournament that Edges and Nets will participate in hosting in San Diego in mid-August.

Hugo Calderano Defeats Jang Woojin 4-3

Update: The live blog is complete. Unfortunately, due to time constraints, a full recap will not be posted.

We will be live blogging the Jang Woojin vs Hugo Calderano round of 16 match.

The winner of this match will play the winner between Dimitrij Ovtcharov and Koki Niwa in the quarter-final.

The full men’s singles bracket and results can be viewed here.

Viewers in the United States can watch the match on the Table 2 stream on NBC (cable subscription required).

Please give some time for the live blogging software to load.

f you liked this post, please share it with your friends and follow Edges and Nets on Facebook Instagram, and Twitter to stay updated. Check out the rest of our Olympic coverage.

If you are based in the United States, be sure to also check out our exclusive interview with Kanak Jha and a tournament that Edges and Nets will participate in hosting in San Diego in mid-August.

Olympics Day 3 Results: Lily Zhang Slow Spins Past Offiong Edem

USA’s Lily Zhang received a brief scare as she failed to adjust to Nigeria’s Offiong Edem’s tricky serves and deceptively slow pace and lost the first game of their round of 64 match-up in the women’s singles table tennis event at the Tokyo Olympics, but Zhang was able to quickly adjust with some reliable slow spins to cruise to a comfortable 4-1 victory.

One statistic to illustrate Zhang’s adjustments is to count her number of missed openings into the net. In the first game, Zhang missed three backhand openings into the net and another opening that caught the net and went out. In the four games that she won, Zhang did not miss a single opening into the net, as her high-arcing slow spinny loops tended to land more often and miss out when they did miss.

We present a full recap below. Unfortuntately, video hilights are limited due to difficulties obtaining recordings of the Olympics.

Game 1

Zhang struggled with the unusually slow rhythm of Edem’s serve and pushing game early on in the match as Zhang missed three openings and popped up another serve return to fall into a 4-1 hole. However, Edem herself missed an opening forehand loop, and Zhang was able to get into a better rhythm for the next several points as she won four out of the next six rallies, resulting in a 6-6 tie.

Edem then tricked Zhang on a long fast serve and a spinny short serve, but Edem missed a follow up against a high-ball, keeping the score tied at 7-7. Zhang was able to get in two solid openings on her own serve to take a 9-7 lead. Zhang then missed three of her next four openings, resulting in a deuce score of 10-10 with Edem to serve.

Zhang took game point at 11-10 after winning a slow backhand-backhand exchange. Edem saved the game point with a nice wide forehand flick and wide counter to follow, and she then proceeded to beat Zhang on all three of her next serves. Zhang was able to save two game points but missed her backhand opening on the third one to give Edem the first game 15-13.

Game 2

Zhang appeared to embrace the slow pace of the match in game 2, as she responded to nearly all of Edem’s pushes with slow spinny forehand loops targeted to Edem’s backhand and elbow. After several missed fast backhand openings into the net in game 1, the more forgiving forehand topspin allowed Zhang to only miss one opening (that went out of the table) the whole game. After Edem scored the first point of the game with a pretty down-the-line punch on a short serve to her backhand, Zhang won nine straight points before cruising to a 11-2 victory.

Game 3

Zhang continued her absolute dominance in game 3, landing in slow spins from both the forehand and backhand side this time. Edem appeared to handle the spins slightly better in game 3, but the significantly faster Zhang was able to easily win every one of the quick rallies once the point reached past the opening. The only two points that Zhang lost were due to popping up a serve return on the push and missing a slow spin out of the table when up 6-1.

Game 4

Zhang had trouble reading Edem’s serves again early in the game, but Zhang was able to win all her points on her own serve to take a commanding 8-2 lead. However, Edem was again able to take both the points on her own serve to narrow the gap to 8-4, and then she won a rare victory on a fast backhand-backhand rally, a play that Zhang had so far absolutely dominated in the match, to cut the lead to 8-5. 

Edem missed a short flick and a high ball to give Zhang the 10-5 lead, but then Zhang hit the edge of her racquet on a forehand half-long opening as she again failed to read Edem’s serve properly, making it 10-6. Edem was finally able to pressure Zhang with a slow spin of her own to cut the lead to 10-7, and then Zhang missed another forehand counter to make it 10-8, as USA’s coach Gao Jun called time-out.

Down 10-8 with serve, Edem had a chance to put some heavy mental pressure onto Zhang, but when an unsure Zhang pushed Edem’s serve half-long to the middle, Edem opened the ball into the net, giving Zhang the fourth game 11-8.

Game 5

Zhang caught an edge to open game 5 and after taking a quick 2-0 lead Edem called time-out. Edem was able to win two straight points with a surprise chiquita to Zhang’s elbow on the serve return to level it at 2-2, but Zhang was able to get back into rhythm and won seven straight points to go up 9-2. Zhang appeared to rush a high kill and miss a shot to cut the lead to 9-3, and Zhang could be seen motioning at herself to calm down after the miss.

Zhang then  took match point with another slow spin to Edem’s forehand. Edem was able to save three match points with a pretty block, yet another chiquita to the elbow, and a net ball, but Zhang ultimately proved too much as she landed a cross-court winner, let out a cholae, and took the game 10-6 and the match 4-1.

Notes and Other Results

Zhang will play Taiwan’s Chen Szu-Yu in the round of 32. Zhang lost in the round of 32 in the 2016 Olympics to Korea’s Suh Hyowon.

The rest of the women’s singles brackets and results can be found here. One notable upset was Canada’s Mo Zhang over Germany’s Petrissa Solja in the round of 32. Zhang will face China’s Chen Meng in the round of 16.

The men’s singles brackets and results can be found here. In the round of 64, Lily Zhang’s male teammate Kanak Jha lost 4-2 to Russia’s Kirill Skachkov despite winning one game 11-0.

In the round of 32, one notable result was Slovenia’s Darko Jorgic’s upset over England’s Liam Pitchford. The match went six games, with the final four games all being decided by a margin of two (the final score was 11-8, 7-11, 12-10, 11-13, 11-9, 12-10). It’s a heart-breaking loss for Pitchford, although Jorgic himself also avoided many sleepless nights by pulling out the win: in Game 4, Jorgic missed his own serve at 9-9, and then lost the game off a net-ball by Pitchford.

Jorgic will play Japan’s Tomokazu Harimoto in the next round. With a possible draw of Pitchford/Harimoto/Lin Yun-Ju/Fan Zhendong/Ma Long, Jorgic has perhaps the most difficult draw in the men’s singles event.

In mixed doubles, Japan’s Mima Ito and Jun Mizutani stunned China’s Liu Shiwen and Xu Xin with a 4-3 win to take the first non-Chinese gold medal since Ryu Seungmin in 2004.

If you liked this post, please share it with your friends and follow Edges and Nets on Facebook Instagram, and Twitter to stay updated. Check out the rest of our Olympic coverage.

If you are based in the United States, be sure to also check out our exclusive interview with Kanak Jha and a tournament that Edges and Nets will participate in hosting in San Diego in mid-August.

Olympic Table Tennis Men’s Singles Day 2 Results: Anton Källberg Defeats Nikhil Kumar 4-0

After USA’s Nikhil Kumar was the only player to win two matches on day 1 (due to every other player having a bye) in the men’s singles table tennis event at the Tokyo Olympics, Sweden’s Anton Källberg squashed any hopes of a cinderella run for Kumar with a decisive 4-0 victory in the round of 64. We present a recap as well as a brief summary of other notable Day 2 results below.

Game 1

Källberg won the opening point of the match with a strong half-long serve return to go up 2-0 with serve. Nikhil Kumar struggled mightily with Källberg’s famous serves early in the game as he made four service return errors to fall into an 8-3 deficit. After a pretty block and slow spinny loops from Kumar coupled with two errors by Källberg, Kumar was able to cut the lead to 8-7. However, Kumar then yielded three straight solid openings to Källberg, giving Källberg the first game 11-7.

Game 2

Källberg landed several pretty counters early in game 2, which combined with a slight edge on serve return and consistency on the openings, gave Källberg a comfortable 9-3 lead. Kumar was able to score two nice counters himself, but Kumar then missed his own serve and a counter following a strong half-long opening from Källberg to comfortably give Källberg the second game 11-5.

Game 3

Källberg won game three 11-6, but the game felt like much more of a bloodbath than the score reflects. Källberg was far more solid on both the opening and the rally as he built a 6-0 lead, including a nasty chiquita at 1-0 that left Kumar confused. Kumar let out an audible groan when he pushed a serve return in to the net, and he then proceeded to miss another opening to give Källberg an absolutely commanding 10-2 lead. Although Kumar was able to catch Källberg off guard with an impressive block and two nice pushes on the serve return to close the gap to 10-6, Källberg’s lead never felt truly threatened as he won the next point off a chiquita on the serve return to take the game 11-6.

Game 4

Kumar built a small early 4-2 lead in Game 4, but Källberg ripped a half-long as he landed a series of agressive openings and went on an absolute tear, which despite a time-out from Kumar when down 5-4, resulted in a 9-1 run from Källberg to close out the game 11-5 and the match 4-0.

Notes

Källberg will play Taiwan’s Lin Yun-Ju in the round of 32. Lin is only the fifth seed in this tournament, but many (including apparently the Chinese National Team) consider him to be the second-biggest threat to the Chinese in the men’s singles event behind Japan’s Tomokazu Harimoto.

Full brackets and results for the men’s singles can be found here. One of the more notable Day 2 results is Paul Drinkhall qualifying for the round of 32 despite only making the Olympics at the last minute as a replacement for the injured (and now retired) Vladimir Samsonov.

Full brackets and results for the women’s singles can be found here. One notable Day 2 result is 17-year-old Shin Yubin (who despite her low rank is a potent threat as she swept through the Korean Olympic trials and defeated Miu Hirano at WTT Doha in March) survived a seven-game scare against 58-year old pen-hold pips blocker Ni Xialian.

In the mixed doubles events, Japan’s Mima Ito and Jun Mizutani, who saved eight match points against Germany’s Patrick Franziska and Petrissa Solja in a seven-game win, booked a finals spot alongside China’s Liu Shiwen and Xu Xin. WTT’s further summary of Day 2 scores and results can be found here.

The remaining round of 64 matches will conclude on Day 3 (July 26, local time).

If you liked this post, please share it with your friends and follow Edges and Nets on Facebook Instagram, and Twitter to stay updated. Check out the rest of our Olympic coverage.

If you are based in the United States, be sure to also check out our exclusive interview with Kanak Jha and a tournament that Edges and Nets will participate in hosting in San Diego in mid-August.

Timo Boll Defeats Dimitrij Ovtcharov To Win Eighth European Championship

Dimitrij Ovtcharov serves to Timo Boll

Dimitrij Ovtcharov smashed a forehand into the net at match point and Timo Boll threw his hands into the air as he defeated Ovtcharov 4-1 (9-11, 11-6, 11-9, 11-8, 11-8) to win his record-setting eighth European Championships. Vladimir Samsonov and Gábor Gergely are tied for second-to-most men’s singles European championships, with three titles each.

It’s a well-deserved title for 40-year-old Boll as he beat every European player ranked top-10 in the world (other than himself) en route to his title. In addition to beating Ovtcharov in the finals, Boll also beat Mattias Falck 4-2 earlier in the day in the semi-finals.

After the match, Boll said, “The last few days were really tough, but I treated myself really hard, and in the end I played fantastic table tennis, and I’m happy. What should I say? I didn’t expect it…I wasn’t sure if I could handle three, four days of such a championship. Physically, I’m tired now, but I could manage it, and therefore I am really happy.”

Cognizant of his age, Boll further added, “The first [championship] is always special, but this can be my last, so it was also emotional, and I had a tough last year. I was close to stopping maybe my career. Exactly one year ago, I was close to down at the bottom, and I’m back again, so I feel really glad.”

The full match can be watched on the ETTU TV webpage.

Game 1

Boll got off to a slow start as he missed two serve returns to go down 2-0. Boll was able to get two lucky balls early on to keep himself in the game, but solid play from Ovtcharov allowed him to extend his lead to 8-5. Ovtcharov whiffed a forehand loop, and then Boll further narrowed the lead to 8-7 with a pretty point in which he spun the ball from below table height that Ovtcharov was unable to block. After the players exchanged two missed loops each, Ovtcharov held game point at 10-9, which he promptly converted with two strong backhand loops.

Game 2

Boll again got off to a slow start in game 2 as he missed several openings to go down into a 5-2 hole. However, Boll appeared to find his rhythm as his steady spinny loops and wide rallies combined with Ovtcharov’s problems executing his short flick well allowed Boll to reel off eight straight points and cruise to a 11-6 victory.

Game 3

Ovtcharov opened the third game with two lucky points to go up 2-0 and scored several more points by pinning Boll down with several wide counters. However, despite another net ball for Ovtcharov at 7-7 to give him the 3-0 edge in lucky balls over the course of the game, Boll was able to stick to the game plan of steady spinny loops and wide rallies and pressuring Ovtcharov to self-destruct on the short flick and frustrate himself as Boll eked out an 11-9 victory.

Game 4

Ovtcharov finally switched to his iconic backhand serve to start the fourth game, but he switched back to the forehand serve after he split his two backhand serves. After Ovtcharov gave a weak push and missed two flicks to lose three straight points and go down 5-4, Ovtcharov called time-out. However, after the time-out, Ovtcharov’s short-game woes continued as he popped up another push and missed another two flicks as Boll extended the lead to 10-8.

Ovtcharov got ready to serve his super simple straight serve, but received a service warning regarding the height of the toss. Ovtcharov switched back to his standard pendulum serve and then lost the game 11-8 on another missed short flick.

Game 5

Ovtcharov opened the fifth game quite sloppily to lose six straight points, including a missed serve and go down 6-1. However, Ovtcharov was able to claw his way back to 7-7 after winning all four of his service points off his signature backhand serve. However, Boll was able to win the next two points on his own serve to go up 9-7 and win a pretty counter-loop rally to break Ovtcharov’s serve and go up 10-7. Ovtcharov was able to save one match point with a tricky long fast backhand serve to Boll’s forehand. However, Ovtcharov smacked the ball into the net on the next point, delivering Boll the game, match, and his record-shattering eighth title.

Watch curated video hilights in the Instagram post below:

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