Belarusian table tennis player Vladimir Samsonov faces a difficult start to his Rio 2016 campaign, with feasible matches against the likes of Kristian Karlsson and Andrej Gacina in the opening two rounds and Samsonov stated it was as a “tough draw” for him.
Dimitrij Ovtcharov of Germany will begin the tournament against one of Kirill Gerassimenko, Adam Pattantyus or Li Ping. Ovtcharov is quietly confident in his ability to do well at the 2016 Olympic Games, “All the players are good, and the draw is tough but it’s all in my hands from the very first round. I hope for a good start, I believe in my strength and I think I can go far here.”
Samsonov vs Ovtcharov?
When Samsonov and Ovtcharov were asked about the possibility of a quarter-finals encounter, both players approached the subject with a differing attitudes. Samsonov was more than willing to discuss a potential face-off with his fellow club mate Ovtcharov in the last eight, “Yes we played many times and last time I lost. I actually had a good chance to beat him… and even though we are teammates, everybody wants to win.”
On the other hand, Ovtcharov encouraged caution with the prospect of an early round upset not out of the question, “I don’t think too much about this game because there is (sic) two tough matches for him, I think he plays against two opponents he has lost to a few times lately and so I have to concentrate on myself because I also have two tough opponents.” Ovtcharov added, “If it does come to this match, it will be interesting… but I think we are better not to think too much about it.”
Samsonov’s Reaction on Olympic Table Tennis Draw
Olympic Champion is Beatable
While talk of a hypothetical match-up between Vladimir Samsonov and Dimitrij Ovtcharov wasn’t met with an all-round need to discuss, both players were able to agree on one thing: the defending Olympic men’s singles champion Zhang Jike (China), is beatable.
Ovtcharov believes that Zhang’s inconsistency across the world circuit over the past couple of years could give him (Ovtcharov) a stronger opportunity to deal revenge, following Zhang’s victory over him at London 2012, “He is also playing a few guys he has had trouble with lately. Four years ago I played against him in the semi-finals but I wasn’t ready to give him a big fight. I believe that I would be up to it this time and the match would be interesting.”
Samsonov even went as far as to say that he is happier to be in Zhang Jike’s half of the draw, than in Ma Long’s, “Considering it wasn’t easy to win one set against Ma Long in the past few matches, against Zhang Jike things look a bit better, I’ve beaten him once in the Euro-Asia Cup… Yes normally against Zhang Jike is probably a bit easier to play comparing to Ma Long (sic).”
— ITTF World (@ittfworld) August 3, 2016
Men’s Singles Draw
Ma Long could face Danish player Jonathan Groth in his opening match, with Jun Mizutani, Chaung Chih-Yuan and Timo Boll also competing in the top half of the draw. The bottom half features Zhang Jike, Wong Chun Ting and Tiago Apolonia and is also where Samsonov and Ovtcharov are placed.
Rio 2016 Table Tennis Draw:
by Simon Daish