Solja Makes Strong Impression on ITTF Finals Crowd

Just a couple of weeks ago, Team JOOLA’s Petrissa Solja played her first international matches since winning the ITTF Europe Top 16 Cup back in February. It was a tough start for the German star, losing both of her group matches to JOOLA teammate Wu Yue and Chinese Taipei’s Chen Szu-Yu. Fast forward a fortnight and Solja seemed to have found her footing, as she made a memorable impression at the 2020 ITTF Finals.

Petrissa Solja 4-2 Feng Tianwei (Round of 16)

No doubt Solja would have felt confident as she went into her first match, against Singapore’s Feng Tianwei – a player she has a 3-1 career head to head over. The former World Team Champion and current world-ranked no. 9 was certainly a formidable opponent, and the match had plenty of twists and turns.

It was Solja who was able to get off to a good start in the match, utilizing a precise and tight short game to control the serve receive early on, and playing with great timing to counter early and keep on top of the ball.

Feng was quick to bounce back after losing out the first game, and came back out more assertive and vocal. The next two games were won by the Singaporean by the slimmest of margins, and the pressure mounted on Solja as she trailed 2-1.

Game four was a big momentum shift for Solja, who came out firing on all cylinders. Combining early timing on the forehand, with impeccable placement down the line, she caught Feng off guard point after point to take control of the table. Feng had no answers, as a very decisive and confident Petrissa Solja dominated proceedings, 11-5, and the game was tied at 2-2.

Solja converted the fifth game to give herself sight of the finish line, but Feng made an impressive case for a seventh as she took an enormous 7-2 lead in the sixth game. Solja stuck to her guns, relying heavily on a controlled short game, heavy spin backhand openings and blistering forehand counters close-table.

She came flying back to seal out the match 4-2 and advance into the quarterfinals where she would face China’s Chen Meng, who 2 weeks ago had been crowned World Cup Champion.

Petrissa Solja 2-4 Chen Meng (Quarterfinal)

The match between Petrissa Solja and Chen Meng would prove to be a nail-biter, and no doubt had a local Zhengzhou crowd nervous for their national team hero Chen. A week ago she had brought home the victory on home ground – defeating Team JOOLA’s Lily Zhang on her way to doing so.

The first game began in a very one-sided manner – but not in the way one would usually expect when a world-ranked no. 1 player is involved. It was Solja who took control early and powered to a 9-2 lead, looking to gain the early advantage. She was able to force many early errors from Chen, who wasn’t able to settle into the game.

The Chinese star adjusted and began to turn things, as she found more rhythm in the rallies and pressed the speed dial up. Chen surged back into the game, but Solja was able to collect another point and move to within just one of taking the first game.

Chen pushed her way back to trail 10-8, with some dangerous momentum. Solja, seeing the significant importance of claiming the first game of the match, called a timeout.

With Chen taking the next point and with the serve, a half-long over the forehand side edge would cost her. Solja picked up the ball with ease, playing a quick and spinny opening which Chen wasn’t able to control. No doubt a relief for Solja who had circumnavigated the challenge to take game one.

Game two featured some exceptional rallies, with Chen playing the high paced and technically precise game she is known for and Solja going toe-to-toe with her at every turn. Even as Chen took the lead, Solja clung to the game. In a turn-around of game one, it was Chen who led 10-8 and Solja who looked to bounce back and add to her lead.

A powerful forehand-counter closed the gap to one point and Chen was forced to call a timeout.

Unwavering in her resolve, Solja played exceptional attacking points to even and then give herself a game point. At game point, she went for a more creative sidespin serve receive and then took the ball out wide to the backhand from her backhand in the middle – creating a very awkward angle. Chen was not in position. Solja gifted herself a 2-0 lead in the match.

The World Cup Champion was backed into a corner in front of a home crowd. She came back out and went on the offensive, knowing there was now no room for hesitation. From here Chen went from strength to strength and was able to climb her way back from the 2-0 deficit. Solja remained patient and focused, looking to create opportunities, but Chen had stepped her game up to a whole new level.

Leveling the match at 2-2, Chen was in unstoppable form. She would seal out the match 4-2, with fiery combos and sharp counter-attacks. As she progressed, she only grew more bold in her offense.

Chen complimented Solja in the post-match interview, saying it was “an exciting match, and I thought she played very well today.”

For Petrissa Solja, this was a testament to her incredible performance – forcing the best player in the world to lift her game to its highest level. It was a pleasure to watch. We congratulate Peti on her outstanding win over Feng, and a brilliant match against Chen Meng. Team JOOLA is very proud to have our name alongside yours as you show off your best on the international stage again! 

Petrissa Solja's Equipment

Blade

JOOLA Nobilis PBO-C

Forehand

JOOLA Dynaryz ACC

Backhand

JOOLA Dynaryz ACC

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