Table Tennis Tidbits #28

By Robert Ho | May 15, 2018, 11:01 a.m. (ET)

Fan Zhendong 2017 ITTF World Cup


TABLE TENNIS TIDBITS # 28  By Robert Ho  10-4-16

Liebherr Men’s World Cup:  10-1—3-16   Fan Uber Alles

In Saarbrucken, Germany, the 2 top seeds in this competition, Fan Zhen Dong and Xu Xin, both of China, reached the finals.  19 year old Fan, currently #2 in the world beat his older teammate, #3 in the world: 5, 6, 8, -7, 10.  The first point of the first game was a pushing duel with Fan winning the first point outpushing Xu—there were no topspin shots in that first point; there were a number of pushing exchanges throughout the match.

The last point of the 3rd game was a FH counter-flip by Fan down the line from just off the table, at Fan’s FH corner, of a FH hit by Xu from Xu’s BH corner (Xu’s a lefty)—got that?  “A picture is worth a thousand words”—look up the picture!

Fan’s BH loop is noticeably stronger and more consistent than Xu’s reverse penhold BH loop—a crucial factor in the outcome of the match.  The footwork of both is excellent but Xu’s continued (over)emphasis in using his FH loop does not matchup well against Fan’s more discreet balance of FH and BH looping.

I was curious to witness the performance of Austria’s Stefan Fegerl who, at the 2015 Polish Open, made Fan work thru a 7 game match for a win; this after Fan gave the Austrian his only point in the first game with a Fan serve into the net.  But in this World Cup tourney, Jeoung Young Sik of Korea eliminated the Austrian 4-2 in the round of 16.

In the quarters, in an encounter of 2 lefties, Par Gerell of Sweden looked “pretty good” taking the first game from Xu Xin, so Xu upped his game a trifle to take the next 4 with some exciting exchanges.

In another quarters match Jeoung met his exit from the competition in Fan: -6, 5, 9, 10, 9.  Fan was error prone in the first game so Jeoung led 6-1, and won 11-5.  The 4th game footage presents numerous examples of Fan’s agility, side-to-side footwork and anticipatory moves, resulting in optimal mechanics in executing the BH loop.  Because he is more often rushed, Jeoung is often forced to BH loop with his elbow near full extension thus greatly reducing power and spin.

In the deciding 5th game Fan executes a “textbook” BH loop from his FH corner diagonally to Jeoung’s FH corner (they’re both righties).  Because he’s perpetually aggressive, Fan can be seen away from the table squatting to complete FH loops.  He also performs a BH chop to stay in the point and wins the point to make the score 10-8; wins the match at 11-9.  Conditioning exercises are necessary to move well and frequently at world class level.  For players at more mundane levels, simply trying to employ optimal footwork can be a conditioning exercise in itself!