by Simon Daish
Turkey’s Hu Melek contributed one of the biggest shocks of the Women’s Singles competition, when the sixth seed ousted the top seed Han Ying (GER) in their quarter-finals tie.
Hu had never encountered Han at a World Rankings event prior to this year’s Championships, and there was expectation on the shoulders of the German player due to her seeding advantage. Yet it was not to be for Han as her lower seeded opponent Hu found her way to the win after six tight games.
“I had to try everything to beat her. It was a very long match. Sometimes I felt like I was hitting the wall, everything came back. Han is top player” – Hu Melek (TUR).
Han Ying wasn’t the only contestant from her country to fall at the quarter-finals stage with Petrissa Solja and Kristin Silbereisen suffering defeats to Yu Fu (POR) and Elizabeta Samara (ROU), leaving Germany without a representative in the last four of the category.
Yu Fu and Elizabeta Samara will meet in the bottom half of the semi-finals draw, while Hu Melek’s opponent in the top half of the draw will be Li Jie (NED) who came back from two games down to beat Matilda Ekholm (SWE) in seven ends.
There could potentially be an all-French final on the cards for the Men’s Singles category in Budapest, after Emmanuel Lebesson and Simon Gauzy booked their spots in either half of the semi-finals draw.
The unexpected exit of the second seed Vladimir Samsonov (BLR) in the previous round looked set to be the headline grabber for the day, however, the efforts of the French duo stole that honour. Gauzy saw off Austrian competitor Robert Gardos with a solid performance which led to a 4-2 victory, but arguably Lebesson ended the day’s play with the most to cheer about following his stunning win against the 2015 competition’s runner up Marcos Freitas (POR).
12 places separated Lebesson (15th) and Freitas (third) making the latter player the slight favourite heading into the match. But having said that it was Lebesson who had prevailed at their most recent encounter which was coincidentally at the 2015 European Championships in Ekaterinburg, and a repeat outcome occured in this year’s tournament as the Frenchman overcame Freitas in six games to move into the last four.
Timo Boll’s triumph over Benedek Olah (FIN) will see the German player take on Simon Gauzy in the penultimate round, while Jakub Dyjas (POL) continued his fine run at the Championships with a win against Kou Lei (UKR) to set up a tie with Emmanuel Lebesson.
Last year saw Stefan Fegerl (AUT) and Joao Monteiro (POR) claim the Men’s Doubles prize, but their plans of defending their title came to a halt on day five of the 2016 competition after the duo were eliminated by Patrick Franziska (GER) and Jonathan Groth (DEN).
Franziska and Groth later went on to reach the final, and will go head-to-head with Jakub Dyjas (POL) and Daniel Gorak (POL) for the trophy.
Germany may have endured a nightmare performance in the Women’s Singles event, but only the exact opposite can be said when it comes to the Women’s Doubles category with the country filling out both available spaces in the final.
Kristin Silbereisen and Sabine Winter made a wonderful recovery against the host nation’s Dora Madarasz (HUN) and Szandra Pergel (HUN) winning the last three games in a row to take the victory, and the other German partnership of Shan Xiaona and Petrissa Solja knocked out Romania’s Daniela Monteiro-Dodean and Elizabeta Samara.
Liebherr 2016 European Championships: Watch live on Laola 1.TV
Saturday 22nd October: Women’s Singles – Main Draw
Saturday 22nd October: Men’s Singles – Main Draw
Saturday 22nd October: Men’s Doubles – Main Draw
Saturday 22nd October: Women’s Doubles – Main Draw