Experience Counts Vladimir Samsonov Wins Liebherr Men's World Cup

Courtesy of ittf.com
By Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor | Photo by Alex Lomaev

Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus was crowned Liebherr Mens World Cup champion late in the afternoon of Sunday 18th October 2009 beating Chinas Chen Qi in five games at the final hurdle.

It was the third time in eleven appearances that Vladimir Samsonov has won the title; he won in 1999 in the Chinese city of Xiaolan and in 2001 in the Italian city of Courmayeur.

He was the most experienced player in the whole field having made his debut in the competition in Nmes in 1996 when he finished in third place; by comparison Chen Qi was very much the junior. He was playing in his first ever Mens World Cup.

Second Duel
The meeting in the final was their second duel of the three day event in Moscow; in the group stage the pair had confronted each other with Vladimir Samsonov emerging the winner, a victory that reflected previous results.

Prior to the meetings at the 2009 Liebherr Mens World Cup, Vladimir Samsonov had won three of their five duels in world ranking events.

Three Consecutive Wins
He suffered defeat in the first encounter in November 2003 in the third round of the Mens Singles event at the Liebherr German Open but then won on the next three occasions.

The man from Minsk beat Chen Qi in the Mens Singles final at the Croatian Open in January 2006, he succeeded in September of the same year at the China versus World Challenge and in March 2008 at the Salwa Cup Kuwait Open in the Mens Singles final.

However, on the most recent occasion before the duels in Moscow he suffered defeat; Chen Qi won when the two met at the semi-final stage of the Killerspin Tournament in the United States in December 2008.

The crowd applauded as Alexander Petkevitch, the man who has guided he fortunes of Vladimr Samsonov since infant days, walked into the hall; it was polite applause; it was tumultuous when their hero entered the arena.

Furthermore, he responded; a somewhat tentative start to the opening game but as soon as there was a gap, then Vladimir Samsonov accelerated to secure the game with a degree of comfort.

Response in Style
The supporters roared their approval but Chen Qi, attacking quickly, motivating himself vocally, responded.

He attacked from the off, he sped into a lead and just as Vladimir Samsonov had dominated the first game, so Chen Qi dominated the second.

Level Rises
In the second game, Chen Qi had attacked quickly after the service; he had unsettled Vladimir Samsonov somewhat. Returning the service was, as in all table tennis matches going to be a key factor; in this contest the master key.

Returning service approximately 70% of the time towards the Chen Qi backhand and then excelling in the rallies Vladimir Samsonov established a 7-3 lead.

Chen Qi secured the next point, a rally of gigantic proportions with Vladimir Samsonov returned topspin after topspin from Chen Qi whilst be pinned to the surrounds. Winning that point of points gave Chen Qi a boost he reduced the arrears to 7-6 but never equalised.

Vladimir Samsonovs backhand controlled the forehand attacks of Chen Qi; he captured the third game, the crowd cheered in support.

Concentration Lapse
Employing the tact of directing his backhand topspin wide to the forehand of Chen Qi, Vladimir Samsonov went ahead 6-3 in the fourth game.

It was a vital advantage. He played positively as the concentration of Chen Qi wandered with errant strokes, Vladimir Samsonov secured the fourth game; the announcer delighted the crowd: Samsonov leads by three games to one.

Russia versus China
The crowd chanted the name of their hero and in the fifth game he made the better start, ne won the first two points but then Chen Qi hit a purple patch; the Chinese star won the next five.

Vladimir Samsonov puffed his cheeks; the Chinese in the crowd chanted the Chinese equivalent of More Steam Chen Qi, More Steam Chen Qi; the Russians responded with Vova, Vova, Vova, the abbreviated first name of Samsonov.

Vova reduced the arrears, then levelled, then went ahead 8-7; Liu Guoliang, the Chinese Mens Team head coach, called Time Out.

Chen Qi responded to the advice given, he won the next three points to lead 10-8, with two serves to follow. Vladimir Samsonov saved both game points. Against at 11-10 it was advantage Chen Qi, topspin, topspin and many more from Chen Qi; block, block and more from Vladimir Samsonov.

The point to Vladimir Samsonov, the next point to Vova as well and the next and then delirium; the whole hall stood to its feet.

Vladimir Samsonov was the champion, it was a golden for Belarus in neighbouring Russia.

Vladimir Samsonov (BLR) bt Chen Qi (CHN) 11-4, 5-11, 11-7, 11-5, 13-11

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