London: Former world number one Timo Boll was dumped out of the Olympic table tennis tournament, suffering an upset loss to Adrian Crisan of Romania. It was particularly disappointing for Boll, who had predicted that this could be an Olympics in which the Chinese could be seriously challenged. (Agencies)
The fourth-seeded Boll went down 11-9, 8-11, 15-13, 12-10, 11-6 to Crisan, the world number 27, who played above himself while saving two game points in the pivotal third game here on Monday.
"I'm exceptionally disappointed," he said. "I tried to be more relaxed, but at the Olympics you get pressure, you get stressed and your service becomes unsafe. Then your whole game is not like it used to be.
"In the end he was cleverer. This is not normal when I play against him. Today he played some fantastic shots.
"When I was attacking, usually I am strong in this situation and win the point. But he was great, congratulations to him."
By contrast, the other left-hander who might challenge China, Michael Maze, produced one of his best wins, overcoming Jun Mizutani, the third-seeded Japanese by 11-7, 11-6, 11-4, 11-6.
The former European champion from Denmark has rarely played better, and suggested that he had completely recovered from the knee problems which had lasted for two years and which he described as "complete hell."
Maze, who had an English father and has a Danish mother who was watching, was also supported and cheered enthusiastically by Frederik, Crown Prince of Denmark.
"It's a great feeling to be here," he enthused, "and I'm just pleased my body is in good shape. I'm surprised at how well I'm playing, it's a good opportunity for me in London."
Maze has also predicted that the new two-player-per event rule, will put more pressure on the Chinese, who won every individual medal on offer at the Beijing Games.
"I had the feeling from the beginning when there are only two Chinese it's not so easy for them to play," he said. They have everything to lose and almost nothing to win."
However the gold medal favourite Zhang Jike brushed aside these ideas, even though he was given a scare before reaching the quarter-finals, when he was taken the full distance by Vladimir Samsonov, the 36-year-old former world number one from Belarus.
"I don't think that creates more pressure," said Zhang. "I don't think the tournament will be lessened because there are only two Chinese players."
But his words sounded a little like bravado later in the evening after his 4-11, 11-7, 11-5, 8-11, 8-11, 11-7, 11-7 survival against Samsonov in an hour-long struggle.
London: Former world number one Timo Boll was dumped out of the Olympic table tennis tournament, suffering an upset loss to Adrian Crisan of Romania.
It was particularly disappointing for Boll, who had predicted that this could be an Olympics in which the Chinese could be seriously challenged.