Baggaley retains his World Ping Pong title

Andrew Baggaley
Andrew Baggaley

Milton Keynes’ Andrew Baggaley has retained his Ping Pong World Championship title in dramatic fashion against three time world champion Maxim Shmyrev.

Baggaley defended a match point from the Russian to take the fourth leg before comfortably winning the last 15-11.

The ‘king of ping’ also claims a $20,000 prize with the victory.

As opposed to last year’s final, where Baggaley took the first two legs before winning the fifth after German Alexander Flemming fought back in the third and fourth, Baggaley was never a leg up on his Russian opponent.

Earlier in the evening the MK player had dispatched of Richard Gonzales 15-8 15-12 before beating countryman Andrew Rushton 15-5 15-13 15-7 in his semi-final.

The 32 year old spoke ahead of Sunday night’s action of his “mental strength is a huge advantage” and is the strongest player mentally of the competitors.

This couldn’t have been clearer as while the rest of the sell-out Alexandra Palace could barely watch, Baggaley kept his cool to win the game point in the fourth to take the game to a final leg.

Shmyrev on the other hand, had looked unnerved at times in his previous games that evening.

The Russian faced off against the popular Scot Gavin Rumgay in the quarter final but somehow found a way to get into the semi-final despite losing the second leg 15-12.

He then played last year’s losing finalist Flemming in the semi-final, another player popular with the crowd at Ally Pally and dropped the opening leg before winning the match 3-1.

Shmyrev had put serves into the net and long in both the quarter final and the semi-final and again gifted points to his opponent in the final due to being surprisingly nervy.

Baggaley though, despite being the defending champion wasn’t feeling the pressure despite being a point away from losing his title.

“I kept on telling myself that it doesn’t matter if I lose but then I could tell he was getting nervous and realised I could still win it,” he said.

Milton Keynes’ ping pong champion will be hoping that his form in this competition can transfer to the big year ahead which will include qualifying for the Rio Olympics in the coming months.