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Australian Henzell scares number two seeds Singapore

27 July 2002

Australian champion William Henzell did not deserve to be on the losing side in the men’s table tennis team event at the Manchester Commonwealth Games.

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Australia went down 3-2 to Singapore, but not without a fight, and two great victories by the Commonwealth number 30 over players well above him in the rankings.

Henzell beat fifth ranked Yong Jon Duan (SIN) and Li Xiao Cai (SIN), nine places above him.

With his side trailing at the first set, Brett Clarke (AUS) taking Duan to five games, Henzell was taken to four games by Cai before drawing the teams level. He won 11-6, 10-12, 11-7, 11-3.

Singapore regained their lead on the fifth set when Tai Yong Zhang (SIN) disposed of Trevor Brown (AUS) in three straight games, 11-6, 11-6, 12-10.

Then came Henzell’s second epic performance, not only taking the powerful Duan to five games but beating him in classic style without a nerve in sight.

Henzell took the first game 11-9, Duan the second 11-6 and Henzell the third 12-10. Duan again levelled, 11-5, but in the decisive fifth Henzell attacked from the start, building up a 7-3 lead before deservedly running out 11-4.

Henzell was pleased with his performance saying: “That’s the best team game I have ever played. I haven’t beaten anyone as highly ranked as him ( Yong Jun Duan) before.”

The result hinged on a fifth set between Cai and Clarke, with Cai making no mistakes against the former Australian champion and current number three, 11-2, 12-10, 11-8.

Xiao Li Cai says he lost his first game against Henzell because: “I didn’t receive well, which affected my game psychologically. But I was still quite confident.”

In another close match Dexter St Louis (TRI) followed up Friday’s performance against England, with two more victories, this time against Northern Ireland, who went on to win 3-2.

Info News Service/gjb/eg/jp

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