21 Oct 2016

Former champions, Austria’s Liu Jia and Sweden’s Li Fen both suffered surprise second round exits in the Women’s Singles event at the Liebherr 2016 ITTF-European Championships in Budapest, Hungary on the afternoon of Friday 21st October.

Liu Jia, the no.4 seed and the winner in Aarhus in 2005, was beaten by Germany’s Kristin Silbereisen, the no.19 seed (11-5, 11-9, 11-8, 11-9, 11-7); Li Fen who won in 2013 in Schwechat and occupied the no.10 seeded spot, experienced defeat at the hands of Russia’s Maria Dolgikh, the no.25 seed. She was beaten in a full distance seven games contest (5-11, 11-9, 12-10, 6-11, 8-11, 11-7, 11-6).

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

It was to some extent for Maria Dolgikh a reversal of fortunes; earlier in the day, partnering colleague Polina Mikhailova and occupying the top seeded spot in the Women’s Doubles competition, the duo had suffered an unexpected defeat at the hands of Luxembourg’s Sarah de Nutte and Ni Xialian (10-12, 11-6, 11-8, 11-8, 11-3).

“I have beat Liu Jia a few times when I was much younger, seven or eight years ago but after that, seven times in the row she beat me. Last year in Top 16 she gave me no chance;  for sure, I knew this is going to be a tough encounter;  I practised to win short rallies. I know she would not let me play long points.”

Second round Women’s Singles success for Maria Dolgikh, there was also success for partner Polina Mikhailova, as there was for nemesis Ni Xialian, twice European champion.

“Li Fen wanted to finish the game quickly. I was not rushing,” Maria Dolgikh

Like Maria Dolgikh, Polina Mikhailova caused Austria problems; she overcame Sofia Polcanova (13-11, 11-7, 9-11, 11-7, 9-11, 11-5); however, the result was no surprise. Polina Mikhailova started matters as the no.12 seed, Sofia Polanova, the no.18 seed.

“I started to receive better and I put more power in my service game in order to stay in the match”, Polina Mikhailova

Success as anticipated; it was the same for Ni Xialian but it was hard fought success; the no.20 seed, she needed seven games to beat Polish qualifier, Klaudia Kusinska (9-11, 9-11, 11-4, 11-9, 11-5, 7-11, 11-7). A close call for Ni Xialian, it was the same for Fu Yu, the no.9 seed; she was extended the full distance by the Czech Republic’s spirited Hana Matelova, the no.29 seed (9-11, 12-10, 4-11, 7-11, 11-4, 11-5, 11-3).

“Kusinska improved her game. She is so powerful player now. At my age it is hard to stay focused all the time. I made few silly mistakes. I gave easy points. However, I am still winning and I am enjoying the game.” Ni Xialian

Testing times but for the other leading names life was less fraught with Germany enjoying more success.

Han Ying, the top seed, beat Portugal’s Shao Jieni, the no.17 seed (11-3, 11-5, 5-11, 11-2, 11-4); Petrissa Solja, the no.2 seed, overcame the Slovak Republic’s Barbora Balazova, the no.22 seed (11-5, 11-5, 11-7, 11-1), whilst Shan Xiaona, the no.3 seed, defeated Russia’s Yulia Prokhorova, the no.30 seed (11-4, 11-6, 11-6, 11-6).

“I was not very confident today. I had an injury recently”, Fu Yu

In a similar vein, Li Jie of the Netherlands, the no. 5 seed, accounted for the host nation’s Szandra Pergel (11-6, 11-5, 11-3, 7-11, 11-3), whilst Turkey’s Hu Melek, the no.6 seed, overcame Spain’s, Sara Ramirez (11-5, 11-8, 11-7, 11-7), like Szandra Pergel a qualifier.

Defeat for Szandra Pergel but there was success for Hungary; Georgina Pota, the no.8 seed, defeated Romania’s Irina Ciobanu (11-9, 11-8, 11-6, 11-5).

Progress for notable names there was advancement for one more; Romania’s Elizabeta Samara, the no.7 seed and defending champion, ended the hopes of Spain’s Galia Dvorak (11-9, 11-4, 11-5, 9-11, 13-11). Defeats for Irina Ciobanu and Galia Dvorak meant no player, who had started proceedings in the qualification stage, booked a third round place.

The third round and quarter-finals of the Women’s Singles event will be played on Saturday 22nd October.

Liebherr EC Liu Jia Li Fen Maria Dolgokh