Recently Vladimir Samsonov, one of the world's greatest players, agreed to an interview!
As usual we collected questions from our members here. I did need to cut this down to a more reasonable number, as I didn't wanted to abuse his generous offer of answering questions, nor do I want to overwhelm with with a barrage of questions. Below are the questions and answers that were sent to him. If there are any follow up questions, I will be happy to ask him, but can't promise he'll answer those as well Vladimir Samsonov:Nationality:
Right-handed, shakehand gripHighest world ranking:
April 17, 1976Career highlights:World Championships:
runner-up (1997).World Cup appearances:
Record: winner Gold medal (1999, 2001, 09); 3rd Bronze medal (1996, 97).Pro Tour winner Gold medal (×22):
Italian Open 1996; Swedish Open 1997; Croatian Open 1998; Croatian, Japan Open 1999; Croatian Open 2000; German Open 2001; Qatar Open 2003; Brazil Open 2004; Croatian, Russian, German Open 2005; Croatian, Chile Open 2006; Chinese Taipei Open 2007; Slovenian, Kuwait, Belarus Open 2008; Morocco Open 2009; Morocco, Korea, Polish Open 2010.Runner-up Silver medal(×9):
Qatar Open 1997; Yugoslavian, German Open 1998; Brazil Open 2000; German Open 2002; Polish Open 2006; Croatian Open 2007; Singapore Open 2008; German Open 2009.Pro Tour Grand Finals appearances:
12. Record: winner Gold medal (1997); runner-up Silver medal(1996); SF Bronze medal (2008, 10).European Championships:
winner Gold medal (1998, 2003, 05); runner-up Silver medal (2007, 08).Europe Top-12:
winner Gold medal (1998, 99, 2001, 07); 2nd Silver medal (1997, 2002, 03, 05, 08, 09, 10).Interview with Vladimir Samsonov:General:Was playing Pro TT a dream from a young age or was there some other dream before it?
Yes, I always wanted to play table tennis.For years, you and Timo Boll have been Europe's two main threats to Chinese dominance in the sport. What can Euro players do to be more competitive on the world stage?
I think the best Europeans should practice more, harder and if possible together.Vladi, you are making a living from Table tennis as a Pro. Does your income come mainly from sponsorship, prize money or coaching? What are your future plans for this?
I'd say mainly from the club and sponsorship.What does a typical practice day consist of for you?
3-4 hours table tennis, 1 hour physical training.Vladi, how do you peak for Europe top 12? It is very remarkable that you are ALWAYS (it seems) in the finals of that event. Very remarkable indeed. I would like to be able to do something like that, even if it is at the amateur level.
Actually there is never time to prepare for the TOP 12, I think this is a coincidence.You have had a long lasting relationship with Tibhar. What has kept this such a strong relationship? Do you have much involvement in the development of new equipment?
There are great people in the Tibhar company , very professional . We are 19 years together and I have never had a problem . They helped me a lot. Lately l was getting more and more involved in the development. There are lot of new interesting products.You are one of the smoothest, calmest and relaxed players I've seen, are you like that in everyday life, or you can put yourself in that yoga kind state whenever you play? If so, have you practiced yoga or Tai-Chi in order to attain such inner peace?
Usually I am very calm, I wish I could show more emotions during the game and had time to practice yoga or Tai-Chi.Vladi, what did you and Joo, S.H. say after 2010 Korea Open finals?
I do not really remember , probably that it was a great and tough game.Technique / Strategy:Since you're one of the sport's best blockers, what do you think is most important to improve a player's blocking?
I probably have a talent for this, still in the end it is training.What style of play you find hardest to play against and what tactics you use against that style to win?
l do not like playing against very aggressive players. You have to attack yourself.You mainly seem to use a forehand pendulum serve, which seem unique and looks very smooth and simple. Can you share how you vary the spin and how you place the ball to limit the opponents options in attacking it? Does it take a lot of your time to practice this?
It is not easy to explain . When you use same serve for a long time you have a feeling how to touch the ball in order to give a certain rotation. When I want to improve it I practice only serve for about 1 hour a day until I am satisfied.Do you study the playing styles of your opponents before the real matches begin? Do you play on your opponents' weaknesses or on your own strengths?
I think it is important to know your opponent well , now it is much easier - you can find almost every official match on the internet. It is better to play on your opponents' weaknesses with your own strengths.Equipment:It is well known that a large number of players at the elite level play with tuned rubbers. What are your thoughts on Boosting/Tuning, and the difficulty in enforcing the new rules? Do you feel it's necessary for players to boost rubbers to continue to perform at an elite level, since many players are obviously already doing this?
The rubbers now are much better than one or two years ago , I think less and less players play with so called boosters , health damaging additives are not being used ,this is what the speed glue ban was supposed to achieve . Today table tennis is a very clean sport .It has often been suggested that the elite players, like yourself, get special versions of rubbers, especially optimised for their liking. How common is this for the elite players?
It is impossible to produce exactly the same rubber each time , probably the rubbers for the top players are selected.Without a doubt you are one of the world's best blockers. Have you ever thought of playing with Short pimples?
I have never thought of it, you can not win a game against strong player only with block.What do you think about the large number of ITTF rules changes in the last decade or so (hidden serve, ball size, speed glue ban, frictionless pimple ban, 11 point game, etc.)? Where there any rule changes that impacted you a lot?
I think lot of them are good and logical, speed glue ban is because of health, open serve is better for a longer rallies, 40 mm ball should be seen better on TV, shorter sets are supposed to make the game more thrilling. Change to 40 mm balls had a big impact , because the weight of the ball did not change - the quality got much worse, I think it affects our sport in a negative way very much.