Men's Singles to the Semifinals at WVC 2018

By Larry Hodges | June 24, 2018, 3:26 a.m. (ET)



All eleven Men's Singles events were played to the semifinals, with the final two rounds of each event tomorrow. Since bronze medals are given out to both losing semifinalists, all of the players in the semifinals have now medaled - but rest assured, all are eyeing gold. Here are complete results. And now for some highlights! (Note that I'm listing the four semifinalists from top to bottom, so the first two listed will be playing in one semifinal, the last two in the other one.)

Warning for USA fans - a lot of five-game losses for American men. You might want to bring a hanky. The short version - SPOILER alert! - USA players losing in five in the round of 16 or quarterfinals were Cheng Yinghua, David Zhuang, Atanda Musa, Gao Yanjun, Li Yuxiang, Dave Sakai, Tuan Le, Lu Yueh Yun, Louis Kerekes, and Vernol Waldron. Oh, the humanity!!!

Men's 40-44 Singles. The four medalists are Ju Mingwei (USA), Jan Hrncirik (CZE), Dian David Michael Jacobs (INA - Indonesia), and Thomas Keinath (SVK). The biggest "name" and favorite here is likely Thomas Keinath, the 2009 and 2011 U.S. Open Men's Singles Champion. Originally from Germany, he now plays for Slovakia. USA's Gao Yanjun lost a five-game battle in the quarterfinals to Jacobs, -7,6,7,-11,8.

Men's 45-49 Singles. The four medalists are Chen Weixing (AUT), Mats Kallberg (SWE), Yeh Chi-Shan (TPE), and Jorg Rosskopf (GER). Most likely this is looking like a collision between the two JOOLA stars and top two seeds, Chen and Rosskopf, but the other two may have something to say about that.

Rosskopf looked very good in his quarterfinal match against Jim Butler (USA), winning at 5,8,3, with the two playing exhibition the last two points. Rosskopf was looping winners from both sides, and his legendary backhand rips were ripping - could even chopper Chen return them? The match was an interesting contrast in backhands, with Rosskopf's powerful loops while Butler looked for balls to smash. At one time, Rosskopf probably had the best backhand loop in the world and Butler the best backhand smash. Some noted Butler's fashion display - for years now he always gets playing shoes two at a time, in two different colors, and wears different colored shoes. Here he wore one black shoe, one white shoe.

Men's 50-54 Singles. The four medalists are Jorgen Persson (SWE), Aleksandr Savelev (RUS), Andras Podpinka (GER), and Allan Bentsen (DEN). If you know table tennis, you know that this is a powerhouse event. The quarterfinal battle here was Bentsen over Sandor Varga (HUN), 9,-9,6,-5,7. The big upset of the event was Savelev's win over Erik Lindh (SWE), where Lindh won the first two games and led 5-0 in the fifth - only to lose, -9,-7,2,4,10! In the next round Niraj Oak (USA) battled with Savelev - down 1-2 in games, he led 6-3 in the fourth before losing eight straight, including two unreturnable net balls.

Men's 55-59 Singles. The four medalists are Ding Yi (AUT), Zhou Min (CHN), Traian Ciociu (LUX), and Wang Yansheng (GER). The round of 16 was a double-bloodbath for USA. David Zhuang (USA) played Zhou Min (CHN), and had five match points - but Zhou had three, and converted the last one to win, 2,-6,7,-8,16. At 15-14 David completely fooled Zhou with a serve, which popped up to almost eye level. David absolutely creamed the ball in what should have ended the match - but he went right into Zhou's forehand, who counter-hit a net-dribbling winner to deuce it. Atanda Musa (USA) lost to Nurdin Saparbaev (KGZ - Kyrgyzstan), 7,-9,7,-9,7. In the quarterfinals two giants played, with Ding Yi (AUT), down 1-2 in games, winning the last two at 9 over Zsolt-Georg Bohm (GER), -8,7,-6,9,9.

Men's 60-64 Singles. The four medalists are Manfred Nieswand (GER), Tay Kee (MAS - Malaysia), Bela Frank (HUN), and Huang Jiayang (CHN). To many, including me, the pre-event favorite was Cheng Yinghua, but he was another casualty of the USA five-game curse, losing in the round of 16 to Chen Chung-Ming, 9,-13,6,-4,6. Chen (no g) was an inverted penhold blocker, incredibly steady, with a powerful forehand. Cheng (with a g) was down 7-10 in the first, then 9-10, then missed an easy forehand, and just stood there, stunned - he never misses shots like that. In the second, he's down 7-10 again - and then leads 11-10, 12-11, 13-12, 14-13, and finally wins 15-13. Game three is all Chen, game four is all Cheng, so they are into the fifth - and you know what happens. Chen actually takes an 8-0 lead (!), but Cheng battles back before losing, 9,-13,5,-4,6. Chen would lose the next round to Frank, -8,11,8,8.

Dan Seemiller (USA) won 3-0 over Liu Hui Yuan (USA), 5,8,9, to advance to the quarterfinals against Huang Jiayang (CHN), a penhold long pips blocker. They had long rallies as Huang's blocking defense was almost impregnable, and often Dan would fall back and backhand chop over and over as Huang would backhand quick-hit shot after shot with the pips. In the first, Dan was down 8-10, deuces it, but loses 12-10. In game two it's 9-all, then 11-9 for Liu. In the third, Liu is up match point 10-9 and 11-10, but Dan wins 14-12 - on an edge ball! Alas for Dan, Liu wins the fourth and the match, 10,9,-12,4.

Another victim of the USA five-game curse was pips-out penholder Li Yuxiang. Down 3-10 in the fifth against Tay Kee (MAS), he scored five in a row. Tay calls a timeout, then won, 8,-6,-9,8,8.

Men's 65-69 Singles. The four medalists are Huang Jianjiang (CHN), Franz-Josef Hürmann (GER), Pang Zhan Hua (CAN), and Bernhard Thiel (GER). Some may remember as the hard-bat chopper who lived in Arizona for a time many years ago.

Men's 70-74 Singles. The four medalists are Zhang Xueyou (CHN), Huang Guanglin (HKG), Karel Sekanina (CZE), and Jiri Fafek (CZE). And once again we visit the USA five-game curse, in the round of 16 - or could it be broken. Dave Sakai (USA) played Edvard Vecko (SLO) in front of a huge crowd, seemingly all cheering for Dave. Vecko had a very good forehand smash and a pretty good forehand loop, and could also smash winners with his backhand. Dave doesn't attack backspin well, but his pushes are difficult to attack, and once into a rally, he dominates with his blocking and counter-hitting, especially with the backhand. Dave led 8-6 in the first but lost five in a row. We'll jump to the fifth game, where it's 9-all - and Dave gets a net dribble to go up match point! Could this be the end of the USA five-game curse? No, it was not as Vecko scored the next three and wins, 8,-8,9,-8,10. Still, not a bad performance for Dave, who just a few days earlier was in the hospital. But Vecko would himself then lose a five-gamer in the quarterfinals, to Zhang, -7,7,3,-10,4.

Men's 75-79 Singles. The four medalists are Barclay George Reid (AUS), Wang Chang Qin (USA), Chang Tseng-Hsiung (TPE), and Siegfried Lemke (GER). And the USA five-game curse was broken - twice! In the round of 16, Wang Chang Qin (USA) defeated Han Songgen (CHN), 9,-9,9,-9,8. Then, in the quarterfinals, down 0-2, Wang defeated Germanico Chevarria (ECU), -3,-12,11,7,7!

Men's 80-84 Singles. The four medalists are Klaus Kruger (GER), Richard Hicks (USA), Dieter Lippelt (GER), and Tay Chong Keng (USA). In the round of 16, Lu Yueh Yun (USA) lost to Kazuo Masuda (JPN, -9,5,-6,7,8 - yep, the curse. However, in the next round (quarterfinals) Richard Hicks (USA) returned the favor, chopping down Masuda in five, 7,-8,-6,1,5.

Men's 85-89 Singles. The four medalists are Kai Merimaa (FIN), Louis Gaiffe (FRA), Frantisek Preis (CZE), and Henri Yahiel (FRA). The USA five-game curse struck twice here in the round of 16, with Louis Kerekes (USA) losing to Claude Decret (FRA), 5,1,-13,-12,5, and Vernol Waldron (USA) losing to Hans Pappon (AUT), 4,-7,-9,10,5.

Over 90 Men's Singles. The four medalists are Chen Yongning (CHN), Simon Wasserman (USA), Sheng Tan Tsu (USA), and Lumir Ruzha (CZE). There were ten entries in the event.