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Down 8-10 and 2-1 in a three out of five, Taiwan’s Chen Chien-An’s (WR 69) chiquita was just a bit too soft, and Finland’s Benedek Olah (WR 85) hit back a hard back-hand counter-loop for the winner. Olah let out a yelp in celebration as he completed the upset with a score of 8-11, 12-10, 11-9, 11-8 to advance to the third round of the qualifying draw in the WTT Contender event at WTT Doha 2021.
ITTF’s website failures and bugs continued to plague the event as they failed to post any of the morning events on the schedule.
Olah opened the match by falling into an early 8-3 deficit after missing his own serve and several short pushes and openings. Olah staged a comeback with series of hard counterloops and narrowed the lead to 9-8. However, his short game again let him down as he missed a critical push and forehand flick, giving Chen the first game 11-8.
In game 2, Chen’s short game failed him as he popped up two early service returns that Olah swiftly killed. Poor service return combined with some slightly late loops that clipped the net and went off the table were enough to give Olah a 7-4 lead. Over the course of the game, Chen popped up a push at least five times, but Olah missed two high balls. A particularly frustrating miss was at game point at 10-9 that left Olah squatting in frustration. However, at 10-10 Olah landed a hard chiquita to take advantage and then won a short-push battle to take the game 12-10.
The third game was slightly delayed as both Chen and Olah had a conflict with the umpire over Covid protocols (she did not want them to switch the positions of their towels even though the players were switching sides). After the delay, Olah opened the game with a 5-0 lead after smacking down several of Chen’s softer openings.
He then received a questionable yellow card after he went to use his towel when the umpire went to fix the barrier. After a short discussion, the yellow card was rescinded after the umpire was found to be in the wrong. However, this may have broken his momentum as he immediately missed a backhand counter-loop and a short push to drop the lead to 5-2. Olah appeared to regroup as he won the next two points, including a pretty highlight at 6-2.
However, Chen caught a net at 2-7, which sparked a series of sloppy play by Olah, including a missed serve, a missed high flick, and a block against a slow spinny loop from Chen that left Olah yelling “focus” in frustration. This was enough for Chen to level that game to 9-9. Olah then landed a heavy push that Chen looped into the net followed by a hard chiquita to take the game 11-9.
Chen mixed in a combination of hard opening with some slower spinnier openings to win four points in a row and take a 6-2 lead in game 4. Chen was able to maintain the lead up until 8-5, and then Olah caught a net to narrow it to 8-6. Chen’s push on his next serve return was a bit high and soft, allowing Olah to kill it and force Chen to take a time-out at 8-7. The time-out was to no avail, as his next push was again high, allowing to Olah to get in another kill. Olah then killed another soft opening by Chen and landed in a hard chiquita of his own to take a double match point at 10-8. Olah then killed a soft chiquita from Chen, capping off a 6-0 run in a display of offensive firepower to take the match 3-1.
Olah will play world ranked Austria’s Andreas Levenko (WR 141) in the third round. Levenko upset England’s Paul Drinkhall (WR 56) in his second-round match. There are a total of four rounds that a player must win in order to advance to the main draw.
This match was covered live. All live posts are shown below.