by Simon Daish
Defending Champions to Feature
Ekaterinburg hosted the 2015 European Championships where Dimitrij Ovtcharov and Elizabeta Samara took the gold medals for the Men’s and Women’s Singles categories.
Now one year on the tournament is in Budapest, and both Ovtcharov and Samara will be hoping that the change in scenery won’t affect their chances of defending their crowns in any way.
Ovtcharov will kick off his Championships with an interesting encounter against Marc Duran (ESP), who has reached the Round of 64 following his safe passage through two qualifying rounds. Duran narrowly qualified for the main draw with a 4-3 victory in the preliminary round, will some of that perseverance be apparent from the Spanish player when he takes on the number one seed on day three?
The Women’s Singles 2015 champion Samara will also enter her tie with Aneta Maksuti (SRB) as the favourite for the win. Finishing as runner up in group 5 of the qualifying rounds Maksuti was one of a lucky few who managed to avoid the preliminary knockout round, but her next match against Samara will require more than just luck to steal the victory.
Austrian Octet in Action
Eight competitors from Austria will participate across the Men’s and Women’s Singles events; Stefan Fegerl, Daniel Habesohn, David Serdaroglu and Robert Gardos will all feature in the Men’s Singles, and the country’s Women’s Singles players looking to move into the last 32 are: Sofia Polcanova, Li Qiangbing, Liu Jia and Amelie Solja.
Germany’s Timo Boll (fourth seed) awaits Daniel Habesohn (44th) in what could be a very tricky match for the Austrian, while Amelie Solja and Irina Ciobanu (ROU) are to face one another in the Women’s Singles.
With the top 32 seeded players making their 2016 European Championships bow on day three, intriguing encounters are to be expected and there a few matches in particular that you may wish to keep a close eye on.
Britt Eerland (NED) and Yana Noskova (RUS), seeded 35th and 24th respectively, will meet in the Round of 64 and while Noskova may hold the slight rankings advantage it is Eerland who has the better head-to-head record of the two opponents.
The home fans will be backing their player Dora Madarasz (HUN) in her Women’s Singles tie, and with Ni Xialian (LUX) lying ahead, fresh from a positive Rio 2016 campaign, the tie has the potential to thrill.
Last year’s Men’s Singles silver medallist Marcos Freitas (POR) will be aiming to negotiate Hungary’s Adam Szudi in his opening match, Vladimir Samsonov (BLR) will play Elia Schmid (SUI), and Greece’s teenage star Ioannis Sgouropoulos will be tested against 13th seed Paul Drinkhall (ENG).
Doubles Race to Heat Up
The three Doubles categories could see plenty of interesting scenarios play out on the third day in Budapest; Stefan Fegerl (AUT) and Joao Monteiro (POR) are the top seeds and current Men’s Doubles champions and will return to the table against the Dutch combination of Rajko Gommers and Ewout Oostwouder, and the Mixed Doubles will see 16 players reduced to four by the end of the day.
However, neither one of 2015’s champions Hu Melek nor Shen Yanfei will be playing in the 2016 Women’s Doubles tournament, leaving the door open for the field of partnerships to prosper.
Liebherr 2016 European Championships: Watch live on Laola 1.TV