German table tennis legend Timo Boll took a narrow 4-3 win over Lee Sang-su of South Korea here on Saturday to march into men's singles semifinals at ITTF World Tour Czech Open, Trend reports citing Xinhua.
Down 1-3 on the scoreboard, Boll pulled one back in game five. He saved a few match points in game six, before rescuing the situation from 8-10 behind to win 12-10.
Successfully forcing a deciding game, Boll then held match point opportunities of his own after gaining a 10-7 lead. Lee managed to salvage one point but couldn't bridge the gap any further as Boll survived a severe test 6-11, 9-11, 15-13, 12-14, 11-9, 12-10, 11-8.
"I showed a great performance and fighting spirit today. Lee also played today at a high level. It was hard to change my tactics or speed after falling behind 1-3. I tried to survive, tried to win easy points and somehow I stayed in the game," the Olympic bronze medalist said.
It's Boll's third encounter against Lee and he had won the previous two. "I remember our last game was during the championships. It was also a thriller. I expected the tough match today. It came so," he recalled.
Boll commented that Lee played strong from both sides and had some crazy shots, especially from backhands. It was hard for the German to keep the concentration high, so he tried to place the ball cleverly and to disturb the rhythm.
"Somehow I managed it but in the meantime, I was struggling to hang in the game," said Boll, "in the end, I was also in the good shape."
Following a tough match with Lee, the 38-year-old veteran is relieved to make it through to the last four but is wary of the challenge that lies ahead of him. His opponent in the semis is Lin Yun Ju from Chinese Taipei.
"It's a long way (towards the podium). The semifinal will be tough again. Lin is the upcoming star of our sport. Two years ago I was able to beat him but since that he made a big step forward. This time it will be another player standing against me," the multiple-time European champion said.
Responding to the Tokyo 2020 concern, he joked that he just survived a tough game like at the Olympics. "After such a game, I feel exhausted. My body is dead," he said. "I hope I could stay healthy for the Olympics. Hope I could go as far as I can to win a medal."