Ruwen Filus – NG Pak Nam: the defender dream at the 2017 WTTC

Ruwen Filus celebrating his victory at the Round of 32. Photo: ITTF

The Round of 32 in the Men’s Singles draw at the 2017 World Table Tennis Championships just finished. Three of the players had something in common: being defenders. Panagiotis Gionis from Greece, Yuto Muramatsu from Japan and Ruwen Filus from Germany.

Only the German managed to qualify for the next round, keeping alive the defenders dream that Joo SaeHyuk made real (or almost) when he reached the Men’s Singles final at the 2003 WTTC. Ruwen Filus will face Fan Zhendong in the Round of 16, which will be a hard challenge for him. If he managed to beat the current world number two, the hero title might not be enough for the TTC RhönSprudel Fulda-Maberzell player.

In this article we will do a quick review of his match against NG Pak Nam at the Round of 32. As usual, we will highlight the aspects of the game that influenced the final result and some interesting stats and insights.

The match

The 19-year-old player from Hong-Kong, Ng Pak Nam, was a totally unexpected invitee to the latest rounds of the main draw. Being the World’s 185 does not make it easy for anybody to progress in the competition. In fact, in order to get to this round, he defeated Tiago Apolonia and Chen Weixing, as well as some others in the Qualification Rounds.

Therefore, what would be an easy match in normal circumstances for Filus, currently in 32nd position in the World Ranking, could have become a bit of a troublesome one. Nevertheless, the result confirmed the German’s superiority: 1-4 (6-11, 11-8, 5-11 2-11, 5-11) for Filus. Ng Pak Nam could barely score enough points – he got 12 – to make for one set in the last three altogether.

It was only in the second set that the young player from Hong Kong was competitive enough, while in the others he made too many mistakes. No chance at all against an experienced defender, in front of such an enthusiastic crowd.

You can watch the full match at the official ITTF streaming channel linked below:


The numbers

Let’s see some stats on the match:


It is obvious that the defensive skills of Filus caused Ng Pak Nam to struggle. With a similar amount of winners, the mistakes difference is notable: 32 more mistakes at the Hong Kong side of the table.

If we classify winners and mistakes by the kind of shot, we have:


Most of Ruwen’s mistakes were made when attacking with his forehand topspin and chopping with the backhand. Something we totally expected though, as those two shots are the basis of his playing style. Regarding the winners, Filus surprised Ng Pak Nam three times with quick and well-placed backhand topspins. Three other forehand topspin shots made for the total of six winners.

It is interesting that there are no mistakes or winners with forehand chops or flicks, as they aren’t part of Filus’ commonly-used shots. One example of the opposite can be read in our previous article about Muramatsu’s match against Xu Xin.

Let’s see now Ng Pak Nam’s numbers:


Most of his of mistakes come from the forehand topspin. Usually, after strong underspin pushes and chops by Filus. However, one fact that is not depicted in the previous graph severely affected the player from Hong Kong: he failed to return Filus’ serve 11 times. Considering that Filus is a defensive player, and that he does not usually seek third ball winners, taking that risk when returning the serve was probably his major fail during the match.

A fun weekend

It is already Saturday in Düsseldorf and the first finals are coming. With some big names already out of the Singles competition, like Jun Mizutani or Zhang Jike, hope remains for Germany to win some medals. Nevertheless, there is one assured at the Mixed Doubles competition, as Petrissa Solja and Fang Bo are in the semi-finals stage.

The events to take place today are:

  • Mixed Doubles: Semi-finals and final
  • Men’s Singles: Round of 16
  • Women’s Singles: Semi-finals
  • Men’s Doubles: Semi-finals

As usual, you can stay tuned into the action on the two remaining tables today at:

And don’t forget to follow our Facebook page for more insights articles to come!


* Cover photo: Holger

* Video cover photo: ITTF


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