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Slovakian and Nigerian Cause the Upsets as Former World Champion Departs
By: Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

A delighted Lubomir Pistej after his victory over Werner Schlager  Photo By: Rémy Gros


Slovakia’s Lubomir Pistej and Nigeria’s Segun Toriola were the players to cause the biggest upsets on the second day of play, Tuesday 22nd May 2007, at the Liebherr World Championships in Zagreb.

Lubomir Pistej ranked no.124 on the ITTF Men’s World Ranking list beat Austria’s Werner Schlager, the 2003 World champion, currently ranked no. 11 in the World, whilst Segun Toriola overcame Russia’s Alexei Smirnov.

Segun Toriola currently appears at no.119 on the ITTF Men’s World Ranking list whilst Alexei Smirnov is at no. 18.

Lubomir Pistej won 11-5, 11-5, 4-11, 12-10, 11-7 whilst Segun Toriola prevailed 3-11, 10-12, 11-8, 11-6, 13-11, 11-4.

“It’s incredible; I’ve played him three times and only once ever won one single game”, said Lubomir Pistej. “A team mate gave me a good tactic. I nearly always used a topspin service; I took risks and today my head was good.”

For Lubomir Pistej it was a dream come true. “Before the match I dreamt of winning”, continued the Slovakian. “Normally, he’s simply too good for me.”

The crowd was stunned and so was the man playing on the next table, France’s Patrick Chila; he couldn’t believe what had happened and was immediately congratulated Pistej.

“See you”, he said. “A demain.” Lubomir Pistej meets Patrick Chila in round two.

Previous Win
Meanwhile, for Segun Toriola it was a somewhat different situation, it was the third time he’d played Alexei Smirnov and it was the second time he had won.

“I played him in the Belgian League two weeks ago, I won three-two”, said Segun Toriola who plays for Immo in Antwerp, whilst Smirnov represents the winners of the 2006-2007 Champions League title, Royal Villette Charleroi.

Received Service
“Eventually I received service well today, that’s crucial against Alexei, that why I lost the first two games, I returned service badly”, said Segun Toriola. “He finds it difficult to block against my topspins, if returned service well, then I had a chance, a good chance.”

Segun Toriola grew in confidence as the match progressed; the heavy topspin play combined with his speed won the day. “From the third game onwards I attacked his service with heavy topspin rather than returning with a push or a block”, continued the delighted Nigerian. “He served half-long so I was able to attack his service.”

African Games
Nowadays, Segun Toriola plays all his table tennis in Europe but he’ll be back in Africa in July 2007 for the African Games when he’ll defend his Men’s Singles title. A title he has won on three previous occasions. He won in 1995, 1999, 2003.

The victories of Segun Toriola and and Lubomir Pistej were the major shocks; elsewhere matters went according to plan with Christian Süss one of the players to impress. He beat Portugal’s Tiago Apolonia in a tough seven games duel, a contest that was a credit to both players.

“At the beginning I was nervous and Tiago played well”, said the German. “I made some mistakes today but in the seventh game I made a good start.” Christian Süss dominated the seventh game having trailed by three games to two.

Came Back
“The first round is never easy”, he said. ”You are under pressure, expectations are high but the fact that I came back to win shows that I’m not in bad condition.”

Christian Süss won 10-12, 11-8, 11-9, 4-11, 6-11, 11-9, 11-3; a creditable win but on Tuesday 22nd May 2007 the day belonged to Segun Toriola and most definitely to Lubomir Pistej.

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