Norway’s last match of pool A was against Slovenia. All the matches in this pool yesterday ended in a 2-2 score line. Thus three matches to one victory was the target for the team to go through to the quarter finals as the winner of the pool A and face a runner up from one of the other pools. This was not going to be an easy task.
Commencing at 10am this morning Kim Are and Hans-Olav were first on. We knew they were strong at one and two but we had good chances at strings three and four. Kim Are match therefore could be crucial.
Hansi started well taking 2 games to nil lead. His opponent battled in the third forcing a number of errors from the Norwegian which enabled the Slovenian to take the third game. The Norwegian number three managed to regroup from then on and fought hard to secure 3 games to one victory.
On the other court Kim was playing well and went into a 2 games to nil lead. However the gritty Slovenian was not going to concede the match without a colossal fight. He battled well in the 3 and particularly the fourth games which he just managed to take. Over the last year The Norwegian number one has improved many aspects of his game not least his ability to persist with a basic game when he comes under pressure. This proved crucial in the final game playing consistently and forcing his opponent to make mistakes. He got off to a good start and although his opponent tried desperately to stay in the match Kim to it to put Norway into a good position.
Following on from Hansi was kristian. We knew this would be a hard match for the Norwegian number 2. His opponent was small and lightningly quick around the court. As usual Kristian battled all the way and pushed his opponent hard but was not able to convert his efforts to a win. Some poor refereeing in the final game caused him to lose focus and lose in the fifth.
So it was left to the captain of the team Ronny to put the team through as the winner of the pool.
His opponent was much younger and less experienced and the Norwegian captain exploited this. He played a solid consistent game not giving his opponent time to settle and get his confidence up! Ronny put the team through taking the first and third games comfortably and battling through in the second when his opponent put up the maximum resistance.
In the quarter final later today Norway will meet Luxembourg. The teams met last year at this event in Malta with Norway victorious on that occasion!
Day 2 update Quarter-Finals
This evening’s quarter final was against Luxembourg a team Norway beat last year in this event in Malta. Consequently the team knew they were in with a good chance as like us they were fielding similar players to last year. A calculated decision was taken to rest Kristian as he was exhausted from his match’s one yesterday and one earlier today. Sindre was selected to play at four and Hansi and Ronny moved up the order.
The playing order for each day remains the same so number one and three strings were on first. Kim quickly took control of his match against a ‘lack lustre’ opponent who only gave token resistance resigned to his fate to lose to the much improved Norwegian.
Playing on the adjacent court was Ronny against a fiesty young opponent. The Norwegians length was not as good as usual and this caused him some problems in the opening games. However he managed to impose better length and tire his younger opponent moving him around the court. He eventually won three one.
Following on Kim’s court was Sindre making his debut at this year’s event. He had represented Norway previously at this event two years ago in Budapest. He was enthusiastic to show he could play a major role with the team. A long competitive first game emerged which Sindre managed to win. In the second the Norwegian imposed his height and reach advantage taking control and dominating in contrasting style to the first. The two games he had won meant Norway could not lose the tie no matter what the final results of the last two matches were. Sindre played out the remainder of his match winning in convincing style by three games to nil.
On the other court Hansi had started to play his match and had finished the first game just as Sindre had won. In the interests of the team his match was stopped at this stage. The rules for the quarter final stages state once a tie cannot be won the remaining rubbers do not have to be played as they cannot influence the final outcome. This decision was taken to conserve energy for the semi-final against Malta tomorrow at 12 noon.
A good day for Norway!!!!