20 Oct 2016

Impressive performances, Romania’s Ovidiu Ionescu and Bernadette Szocs emerged as the surprise pairing to reach the semi-final stage of the Mixed Doubles event at the Liebherr 2016 European Championships in Budapest, Hungary, following success on Thursday 20th October.

Thus, as there are no play-off matches for third place in any event, a podium finish and a precious medal is guaranteed.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

In the second round of proceedings they overcame Italy’s Niagol Stoyanov and Debora Vivarelli (11-7, 11-5, 11-9), before reserving their place in the penultimate round courtesy of success in opposition to the defensive combination formed by Panagiotis Gionis of Greece and Ukraine’s Tetyana Bilenko, the no.6 seeds (11-9, 11-9, 11-4).

“For me this is a great relief for singles as well. I had never managed to beat Gionis before. It will help me in the future. Bernadette was great today to. She is always so dangerous for top spin players and she proved it once again,” said Ovidiu Ionesu.

Otherwise, it was success as status advised but not without some moments of trepidation; especially for the top seeds.

Four time champions, Serbia’s Aleksandar Karakasevic and Lithuania’s Ruta Paskauskiene had to recover from a two games to nil deficit before securing success against the host nation combination of Adam Szudi and Szandra Pergel (13-15, 5-11, 11-7, 11-7, 11-7).

“I was under pressure; it was my fault. Karakasevic nor me are the morning persons. To be honest, the first match at the tournament in which I played without stress was the quarter-final and it was the most important”, Ruta Paskauskiene

A hard fought second round success; at the quarter-final stage life was less fraught, a four games win was posted in opposition to Finland’s Bendek Olah who partnered Hungary’s Georgina Pota (11-6, 11-1, 6-11, 11-8).A hard fought second round success; at the quarter-final stage life was less fraught, a four games win was posted in opposition to Finland’s Bendek Olah who partnered Hungary’s Georgina Pota (11-6, 11-1, 6-11, 11-8).

Testing times for Aleksandar Karakasevic and Ruta Paskauskiene; it was not to be the same extent for Sweden’s Mattias Karlsson and Matilda Ekholm.

“If we win gold we will give ourselves another chance. We will say goodbye at the World Championships in Germany next year. German fans always respected me, and it will be nice to try to win a medal. It will be our only chance since because for 15 years it was not allowed to have pairings from different countries.” Aleksandar Karakasevic

Straight games wins were the order of the day; they overcame Poland’s Jakub Dyjas and Katarzyna Grzybowska-Franc (12-10, 11-4, 11-8), before accounting for England’s Liam Pithford and Tin-Tin Ho (11-9, 14-12, 11-8).

Similarly, in round two, for João Monteiro and Daniela Monteiro-Dodean; there were few travails, they beat Germany’s Steffen Mengel and Kristin Silberseisen (11-7, 11-7, 11-5), but at the quarter-final stage they encountered greater problems.

They needed the full five games to end the hopes of Spain’s Jesus Cantero and Maria Xiao (9-11, 11-4, 11-6, 9-11, 11-3), the first round winners over the Austrian second seeded pairing of Robert Gardos and Liu Jia (11-6, 5-11, 11-9, 18-16).

“We do not have time to practise together and we only had played once at the tournament. It was five years ago in Austria. In the playing field we are more colleagues then anything else. We both had professional attitude,” said Daniela Monteiro-Dodean

At the semi-final stage Aleksandar Karakasevic and Ruta Paskauskiene meet Mattias Karlsson and Matilda Ekholm; Ovidiu Ionescu and Bernadette Szocs oppose João Monteiro and Daniela Monteiro-Dodean.

Meanwhile, in the Women’s Doubles event, where the first round matches were completed on the third day of play, the top four seeded pairs all enjoyed success.

Russia’s Maria Dolgikh and Polina Mikhailova, the top seeds, accounted for Turkey’s Ipek Karahan and Kubra Tan (4-11, 11-8, 11-3, 11-9, 11-5); whilst Germany’s Shan Xiaona and Petrissa Solja, the no.2 seeds, overcame Serbia’s Aneta Maksuti and Andrea Todorovic (8-11, 11-6, 11-7, 11-6, 11-9).

Similarly, Romania’s Daniela Monteiro-Dodean and Elizabeta Samara, the no.3 seeds, enjoyed success as did the Polish combination of Katarzyna Grzybowska-Franc and Natalia Partyka, the no.4 seeds.

Daniela Monteiro-Dodean and Elizabeta Samara beat the partnership of Hungary’s Petra Lovas and the Slovak Republic’s Eva Odorova (11-7, 11-5, 8-11, 11-5, 11-6); Katarzyna Grzybowska-Franc and Natalia Partyka defeated Austria’s Karoline Mischek and Amelie Solja (11-3, 11-3, 11-8, 8-11, 6-11, 11-8).

Play in the Women’s Doubles event continues on Friday 21st October, the date on which the Mixed Doubles competition concludes. 

Liebherr EC Bernadette Szocs Ovidiu Ionescu