Baggaley Is New King Of Ping

In front of an atmospheric 1,000-strong crowd Baggaley and Flemming went at it with a blistering pace but in the end the Englishman edged it to claim the $20,000 top prize, gold medal and the magnificent trophy.

Baggaley, a quarter-finalist in 2013 and 2014, showed some outstanding conditioning to survive a final evening that saw him win three matches which all went to the wire. His quarter-final saw him beat fellow Brit Andrew Rushton, after losing the opening set. He then ended Maxim Shmyrev’s three year domination of the event, beating him as the Russian faded in the deciding game.

Flemming, a 27 year-old from Leipzig, had crept into the event, taking the third and final place in the German qualifying event.

He enjoyed an epic last eight battle with fired-up Scotsman Gavin Rumgay, recovering after losing the first game. He then came back under similar circumstances to defeat fancied Lubomir Pistej, the Slovakian ace in the semi-final.

The championship match saw the 31 year-old Baggaley from Milton Keynes shoot into a two-nil lead as the German recovered from his semi-final. Flemming though took the next two to set up the gripping finale.

Baggaley said, “The final had everything. I was 2-0 up and felt in control, even at 2-1, but suddenly it turned around. At 2-2 I had a big chance to win 3-0 and maybe I began to think I would win. I found something in the tank at the end, I just kept telling myself I wouldn’t lose because of physical tiredness; if he beats me, he beats me, but I wouldn’t let it be because I was physically tired.

“I haven’t had many matches like that in my career, in either form of the game. I used to think that spongebat table tennis was more physically demanding than sandpaper, but I have changed my views now.

“After I beat Max, maybe I thought it was my year. I wanted to win it then, even more. I didn’t want to have a great moment and then not win the tournament. It made me more determined.”

For Flemming it was disappointing ended but he wasn’t disheartened; “It is great to be runner up. I watched the final from last year and I didn’t think that this year I would be playing in it. I was seeded second in my group so I did not expect to come this far.

Andrew is a champion. In the semi-final he was the underdog but he destroyed Maxim at times. I had a tactic but it didn’t quite work in the end.

“To play in a final like that, I think you can be satisfied with that even after a loss. I am delighted to have been a part of that and I have nice memories to keep, to watch again and to show my children. It has been one of the best days of my life.

“I was 1-0 down even in the last 16 and that all added up to the emotional exhaustion but it is special and I am proud of this.”

The World Championship of Ping Pong featured 64 players from over 25 countries competing over two days for a $100,000 prize fund including a $20,000 top prize. All players had won through following successful qualifiers staged around the world.

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