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PostPosted: 21 Mar 2010, 19:19 
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Hi!

About two weeks ago I conducted an interview with one of the greats in TT, Jan-Ove Waldner. The reason for interview was a discussion about Waldner I had on another forum and since I know Waldner personally I took the chance to interview him.

We met for lunch and talked for a couple of hours with my computer and questions on the table beside us so that I easily could take notes from what he was saying. During the whole interview he was eager and interested to answer all my questions even though I lied a little bit about the numbers of questions when we talken before the interview. If you have any questions about the interview feel free to ask me right away.

Many of the questions were asked by the forum members of another forum and on my webpage and some of them is from me directly.

I don't consider this to be a great piece of art but I hope that you enjoy hearing what Waldner has to say about things. And I also have to ask you not to use this interview without my written permission, that was one of the conditions from Waldner. I also would like to send a great big thank you to brabhamista for helping to translate this into this english version. If anyone is interested in the swedish version I have published this on my website (http://www.pingisfan.se)

This is the first part out of four and it's about Waldners opponents and what he experience from them.


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PostPosted: 21 Mar 2010, 19:25 
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My interview with Jan-Ove Waldner begins with his thoughts on some opponents through the years and some general, related points.

Match statistics against:

Kong Linghui: I am definitively up. I lost the first match we played, but after that I won a lot in a row before I lost the final in the World Team Championships in 2000.

Liu Guoliang: 4-5, I think. I lost the five first matches, but won the last four.

Wang Liqin: It is quite even as I played him when he was relatively young. However, I lost the two last encounters in 2004; once before the Olympics and then again during the Olympics.

Ma Lin: I am clearly trailing against Ma Lin. I am not certain how many times we have played, but he has for sure the most wins. But I won in the 2004 Olympics.

Cai Zhenhua: I didn’t play him many times, but we won half of the encounters each. 2-2.

The following match statistics are not part of the interview, but added by me. They are taken from “When the feeling decides”, the Waldner career bio written by Jens Fjellke. The statistics below cover Waldner’s career up to 1997. Unfortunately I do not have updated statistics for the rest of this career.

Waldner’s wins are listed first:
Chen Longcan 7-10
Chen Zhibin 3-2
Guo Yuehua 0-2
Jiang Jialiang 4-8
Ma Wenge 19-5
Teng Yi 23-7
Wang Tao 5-1
Li Gunsang 9-3
Kim Taek Soo 12-11
Yoo Namkyu 9-2
Kim Song Hui 11-4
J-P Gatien 22-11
Andrzei Grubba 41-20
Tibor Klampar 8-1
Zoran Primorac 20-13
Jörg Rosskopf 22-11
J-M Saive 26-21

Which player did you think of as a potential problem before playing him?
Liu Guoliang had a very good serve and was very good allround. For a time I feared him the most, but once I found out how to play Liu, Ma Lin became the toughest opponent.


A few classic penholders have played in Sweden over the years, among others An Shu, Huang Dawei, Chen Jian and Wang Jianfeng. Do you feel anything out of the ordinary when playing them and what do you think of them as players?
I actually don’t have any particular thoughts on any of them. Out of the ones you mentioned, Wang Jianfeng was quite clearly the best.

If you compare the best Europeans with the best Chinese, what do you think is the greatest difference when it comes to:

Technique: The Europeans have better basic stroke technique and are more imaginative, i.e. they have more options for any given ball, but it is difficult to generalise. The Chinese are more robot-like and limit their options for each ball, but they have much better rallying techniques, something they really excel at.

Tactics: The Chinese are much better prepared and are better at applying tactics during matches. They have very competent coaches and trainers. Looking at the Europeans, only the Swedes can compare to the Chinese in this respect.

Training: The Chinese practise so much more than Europeans do from a much younger age. That is the biggest difference. At the very top, all elite players practise extremely hard, but the Chinese begin tough quantity training from an earlier age.

Was there a lower ranked player whom you feared a bit more despite his lower overall ability?
No, nobody in particular.

I’ll rephrase that. Was there was a specific style of play which posed particular problems?
I don’t want to give away too much, but really good backhand players, like Andrey Mazunov, could sometimes cause me more trouble than would be expected considering their level of play.

In 2004 you lost the Olympic semifinal to Ryu Seung Min due to lower quality service returns. Before that match you had beaten players with much better serves than him, Ma Lin and Liu Guoliang, for exaqmple. What was so difficult with Ryu’s serves?
First I’d like to point out that Ma Lin’s serve was not especially good at first. He used a stabbing serve with the only variations being backspin and no spin, that is all. But to answer your question, I didn’t play Ryu very often and was not familiar enough with serves, so I struggled. Apart from that, we must not forget the supreme form he was in at the time. He hit the ball extremely hard and was moving superfast.

We mentioned Ma Lin; which were his strengths and weaknesses according to you?
His forehand was very, very good, he had phenomenal returns and at the time he was very fast. He is not as fast today, but he is still pretty quick. His main weaknesses are his relative sensitivity to spin and that he is poor against straight attacks.

You are recognised as being very good against defenders. What would happen if you played Joo Se Hyuk today?
If the match was played best of five, I would win. If it was best of seven, Joo would win.

Who is the best defender in the world at the moment?
Wang Xi, my team mate in Fulda. Just check out his stats for this season in the German League. Personally, I have only 50/50 stats on him in practise. Joo Se Hyuk is the second best defender to Wang Xi.

Which of your opponents have underachieved relative to capacity and talent?
Primmen (Zoran Primorac) comes to mind immediately if you think about those who have not won anything. He really should have won something as good as he was for a while during his career. Andrzej Grubba was also incredibly good, but didn’t win a major title.

If you are thinking of talented underachievers, I think Magnus Molin has squandered a lot of his talent. He could have become very, very good.

Which player is well worth watching according to you?
It was Klampar in the past. He was simply incredible to watch with that forehand and his extraordinary ball contact. Of the current players, I think Kalinikos Kreanga is very entertaining to watch.

I once asked you to list the all-time best players in the world. You gave me this list:
1. Jan-Ove Waldner
2. Kong Linghui
3. Guo Yuehua
4. Wang Liqin
5. Liu Guoliang

Hahaha... Did I really put myself at the top? Doesn’t look good, does it? People will think I am so arrogant.

Yes, you actually did put yourself at the top.
Yes… But it is true though, isn’t it? Haha.

Who would you add to the list in positions 6-10?
Oh, this will be hard. I would probably add the following:
6. Jiang Jialiang
7. Jörgen Persson
8. Wang Hao

After that it becomes too hard to pick and choose.

No Europeans? Jean-Michel Saive? Tibor Klampar? Jean-Phillipe Gatien?
No, none of them. Saive and Klampar did not even win any major titles.

How about some of the older ones?
No. It doesn’t feel right to add Barna, Ogimura or Bergmann. They played too long ago and it was a completely different game back then. You will have to settle for eight players on my list.

All players on your list are not entirely contemporary. None in the top five have won a title after 2005. Why are none of the younger ones on your list?
The younger ones have not achieved enough yet. It is as simple as that.

I will now ask you to design the ultimate player. I have listed a number of strokes and qualities below. Pick the player you think is outstanding for each of these and we will see what we end up with.

Forehand loop, opening: Ma Lin
Forehand loop, in open play: Wang Liqin
Forehand flick: Damien Eloi, That was a bit unexpected, wasn’t it?
Backhand loop: Rosskopf, particularly against backspin. Otherwise Kreanga.
Backhand flick: Wang Hao, over the table. It was unreal.
Defensive play: Vladimir Samsonov
Footwork: Ryu Seung Min
Ball sense: Mikael Appelgren
Reading the game: Jan-Ove Waldner
Tactics: Jan-Ove Waldner
Serve: Liu Guoliang
Returns: Jörgen Persson
Physique: Christophe Legout
Attitude: Wang Liqin

*

This was the first part. The second part will follow later on and it will deal about equipment and some related questions like the changing of tt-rules in the near future.

---------------------------------------------------------------
Part 1, Opponents
Part 2, Equipment: viewtopic.php?f=6&t=11897
Part 3, His style, state of TT: viewtopic.php?f=6&t=11916
Part 4, Career and some advice: viewtopic.php?f=6&t=11958


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PostPosted: 21 Mar 2010, 20:42 
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speedplay wrote:
Great interview and very good translation from Brabhamista!

Now, some stuff in here actually surprised me a bit, like the fact that Waldner picked Appelgren's ball sense and not his own.

Also would have thought he would mention Ma Lin amongst the greatest players of all times, but he didn't.

Also interesting that he pick Molin as the biggest under achiever in Sweden. I've seen Molin play and I must say I'm really, really impressed with his game. I wonder how far he would have been able to go if he performed to his best? I do hope we get to see him in "Pingisligan" (Highest division in Sweden) next season, but as far as I know, nothing is decided yet.


remember that Appelgren and Waldner is great friends and that Waldner really knows how well Appelgren controlls the ball, if you ask appelgren he will be quick to tell you that he really helped to improve Waldners skills with the ball and they for sure trained A LOT back in the day and still do.. it's still wuite amazing just to these guys warm up together.


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PostPosted: 21 Mar 2010, 22:08 
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Hey Anger manager, brabhamista, I may not say much, but many, many thanks for putting one of the best minds out on text by your excellent interview and translation!

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PostPosted: 21 Mar 2010, 22:24 
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Wow this is a great interview! I've never seen a top player talk so honestly about other players and his game.

I like the fact that he talks about himself as a great player just like he talks about other great players... he's being honest and not arrogant. Is that the way he really is, or do you bring out the best in him? ;)

He's got a very good memory of the games he's played, hasn't he? I guess he uses this to full effect in his game to work out his strategies.

Very interesting about the differences between the CHinese and Europeans as well. I'm a little surpirsed that Germany was not mentioned as they produce some good players as well.

Thanks Anger manager for publishing such a great interview! Brab's done a great job with translation too!

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PostPosted: 21 Mar 2010, 22:28 
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Thanks for this guys. Amazing insight into one of the greatest table tennis minds that we have ever seen, and arguably, may ever get to see.

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PostPosted: 22 Mar 2010, 04:52 
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haggisv wrote:

Very interesting about the differences between the CHinese and Europeans as well. I'm a little surpirsed that Germany was not mentioned as they produce some good players as well.



Have I produced this part here yet or have you read the swedish interview? You are from adelaide I see, could you be a aussie player I know a littke bit?


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PostPosted: 22 Mar 2010, 07:16 
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Anger manager wrote:
haggisv wrote:

Very interesting about the differences between the CHinese and Europeans as well. I'm a little surpirsed that Germany was not mentioned as they produce some good players as well.



Have I produced this part here yet or have you read the swedish interview? You are from adelaide I see, could you be a aussie player I know a littke bit?



No I haven't read the Swedish interview, I was referring to these comments:
Quote:
If you compare the best Europeans with the best Chinese, what do you think is the greatest difference when it comes to:

Technique: The Europeans have better basic stroke technique and are more imaginative, i.e. they have more options for any given ball, but it is difficult to generalise. The Chinese are more robot-like and limit their options for each ball, but they have much better rallying techniques, something they really excel at.

Tactics: The Chinese are much better prepared and are better at applying tactics during matches. They have very competent coaches and trainers. Looking at the Europeans, only the Swedes can compare to the Chinese in this respect.

Training: The Chinese practise so much more than Europeans do from a much younger age. That is the biggest difference. At the very top, all elite players practise extremely hard, but the Chinese begin tough quantity training from an earlier age.


Yes I'm an Aussie player...not sure if you know a little about me... :lol: I'm certainly not famous, but there's still hope, when I find my ideal equipment :lol:

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PostPosted: 22 Mar 2010, 09:56 
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haggisv wrote:
Wow this is a great interview! I've never seen a top player talk so honestly about other players and his game.

I like the fact that he talks about himself as a great player just like he talks about other great players... he's being honest and not arrogant. Is that the way he really is, or do you bring out the best in him? ;)

He's got a very good memory of the games he's played, hasn't he? I guess he uses this to full effect in his game to work out his strategies.

Very interesting about the differences between the CHinese and Europeans as well. I'm a little surpirsed that Germany was not mentioned as they produce some good players as well.

Thanks Anger manager for publishing such a great interview! Brab's done a great job with translation too!


Yes thank you for the interview and it just shows you that tactics are so important in all his games, I think the Germans are way ahead of the Swedes now and apart from Timo the rest have come near the end of Jans career. The Swedes had such a great bunch of players all at one time and Im sure that they all helped each others develpment in some way or another. again thanks for the interview and Im looking forward to more

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PostPosted: 22 Mar 2010, 10:01 
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rodderz wrote:
...I think the Germans are way ahead of the Swedes now and apart from Timo the rest have come near the end of Jans career.

I think Waldner refers to the Swedish trainers and coaches and their standard compared to the German ones. That makes sense out of his comment, but a comparison between German and Swedish players today would not.

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PostPosted: 22 Mar 2010, 18:02 
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brabhamista wrote:
rodderz wrote:
...I think the Germans are way ahead of the Swedes now and apart from Timo the rest have come near the end of Jans career.

I think Waldner refers to the Swedish trainers and coaches and their standard compared to the German ones. That makes sense out of his comment, but a comparison between German and Swedish players today would not.


Yes, Waldner refers to the tactics from Swedish players and coaches. German TT is so much better then swedish right now in other respects.


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PostPosted: 23 Mar 2010, 00:31 
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wow...incredible, great translation as well....looking forward to the next part!!!


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PostPosted: 23 Mar 2010, 12:53 
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What's your background in TT Anger manager, and how did know Jan-Ove?

Sorry to hijack the thread with this, but I wasn't sure if you read other parts of our forum, and I think others would be interested to hear about this too.

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PostPosted: 25 Mar 2010, 20:15 
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Added cross linking between the interview parts to make it easier to find them. The links are at the bottom of the interview posts.

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PostPosted: 26 Mar 2010, 09:04 
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haggisv wrote:
What's your background in TT Anger manager, and how did know Jan-Ove?

Sorry to hijack the thread with this, but I wasn't sure if you read other parts of our forum, and I think others would be interested to hear about this too.


My background.. hmmm.. I started playing at club level late (16years old) so i quite soon started off as a trainer and coach. Kept on playing and getting better but never that good. Some 8 years ago I joined Norrtulls SK at the time a small club in stockholm. I joined as a player but mostly as a member of the board which was in fact two persons doing something and they needed help keeping the club running. At that time I nearly stopped playing myself and only kept my great interest going by watching, coaching and talking tt. Many of my best friends are TT-players. The club has grown and now we have about 220 members (50-70 members in 2002) and we are soon to qualify for the swedish second division.

But then 2½ years ago I started training again and my bad temper (thats why Anger Mananger is my nick) started to come back and my thoughts about swedish TT needed to get out of my head so I started a blog about TT for my friends. The blog grow very fast and quite much and I have about 1700-2000 unique readers/visitors per day these days. I think it s the most visited tt-web page in sweden by far today.

During the years a got to know Appelgren and him being best friends with Waldner was how I got to know him. We all live in stockholm, we all love tt, we all support the same football team, the difference being that they are super tt-stars and I'm not. :)

So over the past couple of years we have met up and watched sports together and hanged out me and a couple of the guys. During this period I also got to know Jörgen Persson and we talk on a regular basis. But Appelgren and Waldner are the guys that I meet up with and hang out with.

That's the short story (maybe not that short)..


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