Marcos Freitas beaten by Joo Saehyuk
Photo By: Mauricio Val
GAC GROUP 2012 ITTF World Tour, Brazil Open
The top two seeds in the Men’s Singles event at the GAC GROUP 2012 ITTF World Tour Brazil Open both emerged successful at the semi-final stage of proceedings on the afternoon of Sunday 17th June in the Santos Arena.
Thus an all-Korean Men’s Singles final was assured.
Joo Saehyuk, his crowd pleasing defensive skills dazzling, gradually broke the heart of Portugal’s Marcos Freitas, the no.4 seed, to book his place in the final.
He won in six games (7-11, 11-7, 9-11, 11-7, 11-7, 11-3).
Soon after, Oh Sangeun followed suit but in a totally different manner; his controlled top spin play proved too consistent for the fast attacking left hand Frenchman, Emmanuel Lebesson, the no.5 seed, the player whose forehand top spin in particular had signalled the demise of Oh Sangeun’s colleague, Ryu Seungmin, one round earlier.
Against Oh Sangeun, the no.2 seed, it was a different story; Oh Sangeun recorded a five games win (11-7, 6-11, 11-7, 12-10, 11-3).
Strong attacking top spin play from the left handed Marcos Freitas, principally directed across the diagonal towards the backhand of Joo Saehyuk brought success, in the opening game.
Prepared to attack more, Joo Saehyuk levelled to capture the second game but it was Marcos Freitas who won the close third games; the two gladiators being level at 9-all before the Portuguese star claimed two consecutive points.
Change of Plan
Again in the fourth game, as in the second game, Joo Saehyuk attacked more.
A defender by trade and when he did defend he thrilled the crowd in the Santos Arena but when he attacked one could only surmise that for a backspin player, he was a pretty good top spin player!
Joo Saehyuk, in a contest where the level of entertainment and standard of play was rising by the point, won the fourth game.
It was parity.
Marcos Freitas excels a short distance away from the table, a position from which he can execute his top spin strokes; the effect was a contest that was littered with entertaining rallies.
In the fifth game, returning top spin after top spin with his immaculate defensive skills; Joo Saehyuk established a 9-6 lead; gradually he was forcing errors from Marcos Freitas with his crowd pleasing retrieving skills. He lost just one more point to capture the game and for the first time in the match held the lead.
Exasperated Portuguese Star
In the sixth game, Joo Saehyuk moved ahead 5-3; he was exasperating Marco Freitas with the soundness of his defence.
Marcos Freitas called “Time Out”.
Alas for Marcos Freitas, the break worked in favour of Joo Saehyuk. Errors flowed from the racket of the Portuguese star; he did not win another point. The superb defensive skills of Joo Saehyuk had prevailed.
Exasperated Portuguese Star
Success for Joo Saehyuk was followed by success for Oh Sangeun.
Emmanuel Lebesson, seized every opportunity to attack strongly with his favoured forehand; after losing the first game, he succeeded in the second but the control exerted over the table tennis ball by Oh Sangeun increasing took effect.
The effect came in two ways; on the one hand the blocking and counter top spin skills of the Korean were as exquisite as ever but arguably more importantly, he was the superior player close to the net.
He was able to touch the return of service short of flick wide and fast to minimalize the opportunities available to the Frenchman to unleash his forehand.
It appeared in the fourth game it appeared that Oh Sangeun was in total command. Two games to one in the lead, he led 10-4.
Emmanuel Lebesson reduced the arrears to 10-7. Oh Sangeun took a “Time Out” and sought advice from Yoo Nan Kyu sitting courside. Incredibly, Emmanuel Lebesson with no advisor won the next three points to level at 10-all.
Alas for France there was to be no memorable recovery; two errors as he tried to attack strongly followed; Korea breathed a sigh of relief, Oh Sangeun led by three games to one.
The contest had now turned inexorably in favour of Oh Sangeun, he went ahead 4-1 in the fifth game. Emmanuel Lebesson called “Time Out” but it was to no avail.
Indelibly, the writing was on the wall; Oh Sangeun, as one week early in Japan, was in the final of a GAC GROUP 2012 ITTF World Tour Men’s Singles event.