Alexander ‘The Flash’ Flemming lifted the inaugural World Ping Pong Masters, beating four-time World Champion Andrew Baggaley in a brilliant straight-sets victory at Ricoh Arena, Coventry, live on Sky Sports Mix.
The German has three times been a World Championship runner-up and finally landed a major international title in the UK with his victory over Baggaley, who denied him in last year’s World Championship final.
Flemming took the first two sets of the trophy match 12-15, 10-15 before a close start to the third, but from 7-6 down the German continued to force Baggaley back and opened up a 12-7 lead before eventually winning the set, and with it the match, 15-9.
“Firstly, it is pure happiness to beat such a great player,” said Flemming. “It was possibly by best ever match. The rallies weren’t that great like in the World Championship last year. We know each other so well so it was a little bit more tactical.
“I tried to change the rhythm a little bit, he tried to change it at the end too. It was very consistent, possibly the most consistent match I have had.
“I tried to give him pressure on the backhand so he didn’t have too much time to speed up to me and if there was a chance, crunching the ball with the forehand.
“It feels brilliant to win. I couldn’t watch the last World Championship final seriously until last week because it was really horrible afterwards, to be so close and then be stopped by the legend of ping pong.”
Baggaley said: “It just wasn’t meant to be for me today. I did the best I could but my backhand broke down. Full credit to Alex to win the final, he played great and was solid all the way through the tournament. Congratulations to him, he is a great champion.
“In the earlier rounds, winning so easily, I didn’t really get match hardened, but still I got to the final, but it wasn’t meant to be.”
Both had fallen behind in the semi-finals. Baggaley was 1-0 and 2-1 down to Gavin Rumgay, but the World Champion used every bit of his experience to take the final two sets 15-6 and 15-7 and earn his place in the final.
Flemming was 2-0 down to England’s Chris Doran, but despite a brilliant display early in the match, Doran waned in the second half of the semi-final and Flemming took the fifth and deciding set comfortably to set up the rematch of last year’s World Championship final.
All players, staff and officials Players, officials and staff were tested on arrival at the event. All those tested remained in isolation until the results were confirmed. Strict rules on social distancing and hygiene remain in place, in line with government guidelines. All those who were tested will now remain inside the ‘event bubble’ and will not leave until the conclusion of the event.
Players competed under Elite Sports Person Exemptions and were met on arrival to the UK and driven directly to the venue for Covid-19 testing. All players were also tested before travelling to the UK and were only allowed to board their flights after receiving a negative test result.
Andrew Baggaley 3–2 Gavin Rumgay
10-15, 15-11, 14-15, 15-6, 15-7
Chris Doran 2-3 Alexander Flemming
15-8, 15-11, 8-15, 10-15, 6-15
Andrew Baggaley 0–3 Alexander Flemming
12-15, 10-15, 9-15