King Baggaley retains his crown in epic final

Andrew Baggaley (ENG) 3-2 Maxim Shmyrev (RUS) (13-15, 15-5, 14-15, 15-14, 15-11)

ENGLAND’S ANDREW BAGGALEY was once again crowned the King of Ping as he got the better of Russia’s Maxim Shmyrev in a blistering five set encounter at the Alexandra Palace in North London.
The Milton Keynes man was a winner last year as he broke the super-fit Russian’s run of three WCPP titles and this year it was a clash of the two champions.

The final match, watched by a by a buoyant 1000-strong crowd at the iconic venue, was a blood and thunder affair as each man battled hard to gain the initiative. Two of the five sets were decided by the single point and another went 15-13. Baggaley, who found himself 1-0 down and then 2-1 behind, found something extra to survive match point in the fourth game and then pull away in the closing stages of the decider for victory.

Commented an emotional Baggaley;“That is phenomenal, I cannot believe it. To be match point down and win; I am speechless. Maxim is an absolutely outrageously good player, the balls he hits are amazing and he is one of the legends of this sport so I know I have to play inspirational stuff to beat him just to have a chance.

“He had it at one stage but I kept my composure. I don’t know how I did it to be honest.
“This is one of the best moments of my career. He was better than me, he was a few percent ahead of me the whole time but I kept going. I didn’t want to be denied but at one stage if he had played a big ball he would have been the champion.

“It was a shame that somebody had to lose this match because he is a fantastic champion and an amazing guy.”

The 32 year old Englishman collected the magnificent trophy, a gold medal and $20,000 in prize-money as he cemented his place in the ping pong history books.

For Shmyrev it moved his overall record in the five year history of the event to three golds, a silver and a bronze – an outstanding record that will be hard to surpass. Although he had some kind words at the close, his disappointment was clear.

“It was a fantastic event for me and there were some fantastic game. In the final I didn’t make some key points, my mind wasn’t smart enough at times,” he said.

Earlier, Baggaley had disposed of English rival Andrew Rushton whose bronze medal finish had equalled his best effort in 2014. In the other semi-final it was Maxim Shmyrev who dug deep to reach his fourth WCPP final in five years. He KO’d last year’s runner-up Alexander Flemming in a gruelling four setter.

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