The service of Kou Lei drifts long, Franziska swings .. Matchpoint scored!
Quarter Finals! The 22 year-old throws up his arms, turns around to his coach Jörg Rosskopf, who was on his feet already, celebrating his player. The World Championships 2015 in Suzhou has turned out to be a maturity test for Patrick Franziska – he passed with flying colors. He has been named “surprise quarter finalist” but his success really comes as no surprise.
After his complicated foot injury, Patrick wanted the World Championships to be a test for him, for how good he was, how much pressure he could deal with, and how he would fare on such a high level of play.
The World Championships started for Patrick Franziska with a match against Egypt’s Lashin el Sayed, where the German kept his cool and won with 4:0. But the second round did already mean a though draw for Franziska. He had to face his team mate (and room mate in Suzhou) Steffen Mengel. Where in the past he had to struggle, Franziska won almost easily with 4:1.
In the first match he had been the favorite, the second match saw him equally matched, but for the round of 32, he was certainly the underdog. His opponent: Butterfly star and World ranked No. 10 player Marcos Freitas. In that match, Franziska would have to show his full skill set. And he did. He started off aggressively and fast, almost overwhelming the Portuguese player who became increasingly nervous, as the games went by him. After 5 games, it was over: 4:1 for Patrick Franziska was the final result. He wanted to beat players ranked above him, but a Top 10 Player was icing on the cake for Patrick.
Round of 16!
The Round of 16 match became a higher hurdle for Patrick Franziska. Facing the surprise opponent from Ukraine, Kou Lei, who had beaten Bastian Steger and the victor against Chuang Chih-Yuan, Adam Pattantyus, was no easy task. Franziska started too aggressively, trying to force the issue and was quickly down with 0:2 games. It was after the break when the German focused more on placement and spin and completely broke the rhythm of Kou Lei. Franziska won 4 games in a row – and there it was: the quarter finals!
The opponent from China, Fang Bo (who would later go on and defeat Xu Xin (CHN) as well as the world champion Zhang Jike, proved to be a mountain too tall to climb for the 22 year-old German. He did fare well in the first 3 games, taking the 3rd game with 11:9. He played cleverly and with good focus, but in the end succumbed to the fast and relentless attacks of his opponent. In that match as well, Patrick Franziska showed the promising potential still brimming within him.
Watch the incredible match vs. Kou Lei
After he settled back in at home, we had the chance to ask Patrick Franziska about his experience in Suzhou:
Q: Patrick, first of all congratulations on your success in Suzhou! Did you find the time to enjoy it properly?
A: Thanks alot! On the official closing dinner of the German Table Tennis Association we went to the German Restaurant in the Kempinski Hotel, Suzhou. There we had time to talk about the tournament – and celebrated a little.
Q: How do you rate your performance at the WTTC?
A: I was not expecting to play on such a high level already after my injury. Needless to say I am very happy with my performance.
Q: Which match was your best?
A: Certainly the match agains Marcos Freitas – that was the best I have played in a very long time.
Q: Do you still feel you need to work on certain aspects of your game?
A: I think I still need to work on my speed, and bring more consistency into the game overall.
Q: Did you enjoy the match against Fang Bo?
A: I was a little nervous at the beginning, but I think overall I played well. Fang Bo just was the better player on that day. But these are the games where you can learn a lot and see, what you still have to improve.
Q: How was the overall playing level in Suzhou and who do you think is the best player at the moment?
A: For sure, World Champion Ma Long is the best player in the world right now. The overall level was very high – and we got to see many spectacular points.
Q: Looking ahead, what is your focus now, the Olympics?
A: I work very hard every day to improve my game. Of course I will want to keep playing on the highest level possible, but Rio is still a long way to go, I try not to think about it too much.
Thanks Patrick – good success in the future!