With a fiercely fought 7:5 victory over Pia Filler (GER), Ana Gradisnik (SLO) won the first women’s Euro-Tour after the Covid pandemic, the Predator Sankt Johann im Pongau Open 2021.
The women’s final between Pia Filler and Ana Gradisnik came somewhat unexpectedly. It was the No. 9 against the No. 11 of the current women’s ranking. While higher ranked players like Oliwia Zalewska or Ina Kaplan were eliminated earlier, the two finalists succeeded in reaching the final match. This way was partly very bumpy. In Gradisnik’s semi-final for example, her opponent Kristina Zlateva (BUL) missed the 9-ball at 6:6. A bit of luck, good performances and hard work brought the two opponents to cross swords in the last match of the event. But now into the final.
After a missed shot on the 5-ball, Gradisnik managed to win the first game. In the second rack, Filler missed another easy ball and allowed Gradisnik to take a 2-0 lead. After this rather uncertain start of the German, she had difficulties to find her game. So she attempted to get Gradisnik off the roll a bit in giving her safety positions and long and difficult shots. It worked in rack three since Filler pulled one back from Gradisnik, now trailing 1:2. But it seemed to be a storm in a teacup at first. Gradisnik won the next two consecutive racks as well and advanced to a 4:1 lead. When it rains, it pours! In rack six, Filler broke the pack and she scratched straight into the side pocket. Once again, Gradisnik showed no mercy and snatched another rack off her opponent, extending her lead to 5:1 in a race to 7. Filler did not seem to be able to get a foot on the floor. The more chances Filler left for Gradisnik, the stronger the Slovenian played. In rack seven, Filler managed to seize a point from Gradisnik and set the scoreboard to 2:5 from her view. Was that the turning point in the match? Not according to the liking of Gradisnik. She used the next rack to get on the hill with 6:2 against Filler, having her own break shot coming up in rack nine. But Gradisnik could not close the book on the match yet. Filler took that ninth rack and added the tenth as well to turn the score to 4:6. That added some spice to the match and pressure to Gradisnik. Would she be able to handle the pressure now that she felt in the final match? Her break shot in rack eleven was dry, no balls down, and Filler got to an open table, having a good position on the 1-ball. But Filler ran out of position on the 4-ball. That brought Gradisnik back to the table. Luckily for Filler, she left no shot for Gradisnik. However, Gradisnik answered with a great resafe which Filler missed. Again, lady luck was on the side of the German. She hid the cue ball unintentionally behind the 8-ball, again leaving no shot for Gradisnik. An exchange of safety shots followed. Now it seemed that Gradisnik was struggling. While Filler closed in on her, Gradisnik felt the heat and committed some mistakes. Finally, in rack twelve, Gradisnik benefitted from another missed shot from Filler and took the rack and the match with 7:5 to deservedly win her first women’s Euro-Tour title.
„I was so nervous entering this final it was unbelievable“, stated Gradisnik after the final. „This is my first Euro-Tour victory. I have already lost three times in the finals and this time, I really needed to win“, she added. When asked about her preparation, Gradisnik said: „I could not really practice a lot since I had a back injury which only allowed me to keep in shape playing a bit of table tennis“, Gradisnik explained. „So I actually saw this event as a preparation for the next Euro-Tour which is in my home country, Slovenia, later on this year. This is where I put my focus on and I want to perform well there in front of my people“. „I think this victory here will give me a huge boost and I will now practice a lot to perform to the best in the next event“, Gradisnik mentioned.
Predator St. Johann im Pongau Open 2021
Top Eight Players
1. Ana Gradisnik SLO
2. Pia Filler GER
3. Amalia Matas ESP
Kristina Zlateva BUL
5. Eylül Kibaroglu TUR
Lena Primus AUT
Chantal Stadler GER
Monika Zabek POL