April 3, 2014

Shan Xiaona triumphant, but spotlight on Steffen Mengel

German Open 2014 in Magdeburg

Last Sunday, the German Open 2014 came to a close in the GETEC Arena. Magdeburg was a tournament full of surprise success and titles for the Butterfly players.

The freshly crowned German national champion Shan Xiaona showed off her good form in style. The 31 year-old was tested three times against a defensive player, and emerged victorious each time, demonstrating her aggressive yet thought-out play against defence. She defeated her teammate and compatriot Irene Ivancan in the Round of 16 in a close game with 4:3. After her quarter finals against Georgina Pota (4:1), Shan yet again had to face a defensive player from Germany. This time, it was Han Ying, whom she closely defeated in the finals of the German national Championshipst, a game that went into expedite mode. In Magdeburg though, she posted a victory over Han with 4:1. In the finals Shan faced the World ranked No 9, Korean player Seo Hyowon. It was a fantastic match, which saw Shan Xiaona firmly in charge of the game, she won the first game 18:16 and then never let go of her grip on the opponent. 4:0 was the final verdict on the match, Shan Xiaona emerged triumphant.

For the 19 year old Butterfly player Sofia Polcanova, the German Open became somewhat of a breakthrough. The world ranked 60th player beat in a row three opponents ranked significantly higher (Yang Haeun, ranked 20, Margaryta Pesotska (WR 47) and Misaki Morizono (WR 40), proving her great development and maturity in her gameplay. Her journey ended in the semi-finals, where she was defeated by the world ranked No. 9 player from Korea, Seo Hyowon.

Looking at the men’s singles competition, it was surely the German player Steffen Mengel, who received the most attention. The 26 year-old played on a very high level, similar to the German national championships 2012, where he managed to beat super star Timo Boll. In Magdeburg though, Mengel had to negotiate the qualification phase. He emerged successful and faced the Russian Butterfly-player Alexander Shibaev in the first round, where the German fought hard and triumphed with 4:3, 11:9 in the seventh game. Mengel went through to the quarterfinals, where he would have to play the no. 1 seed, Wang Hao of China. Wang Hao, the super star, three times silver medallist at the Olympics, World champion of 2009 and consistently among the Top 10 players in the world. Steffen Mengel played his best, held his own against the Chinese Powerhouse and managed to defent 3 matchpoints of his opponent in the seventh game. At 11:10, he had one of his own, which he used. The spectators in the GETEC Arena were on their feet, cheering Steffen Mengels incredible success. The following quarter finals match against the Korean Cho Eonrae was easily won with Mengel’s incredible form, 4:0. His streak ended in the semi-finals, where the Japanese Butterfly player Jun Mizutani played a fantastic and smart match, stopping Mengel from ever developing his own game and beating him in the process with 4:0.

Surprising indeed was the women’s doubles competition at the German Open. The polish Butterfly players Natalia Partyka and Katarzyna Grzybowska won against Sofia Polcanova/Amelie Solja from Austria (3:2) and earned a hard-fought 3:2 success against Shan Xiaona/Kristin Silbereisen from Germany as well. In the finals though, the spotlight was clearly on their opponents: Hailing from Japan, Miu Hirano and Mima Ito sailed through the tournament and managed to beat the polish players with 3:0. In this triumph, the two 13 year-olds became the youngest champions ever on the World Tour.

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