22 Oct 2016

Only once in the history of the European Championships has France lifted the Men’s Singles title at a European Championships; that was in 1976 in Prague. On that occasion Jacques Secretin beat the Soviet Union’s Anatoli Strokatov to secure gold.

Now, in 2016 does France have its best chance, in the 40 years since that success, of repeating the feat?

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

Both Emmanuel Lebesson and Simon Gauzy emerged victorious in their quarter-final encounters at the Liebherr 2016 European Championships on the evening of Saturday 22nd October.

Emmanuel Lebesson, the no.16 seed, upset the odds, by beating Portugal’s Maros Freitas, the no.3 seed, in six games (8-11, 11-9, 11-13, 11-6, 11-7, 11-9), before by a very similar margin, Simon Gauzy, the no.6 seed, ousted Austria’s Robert Gardos (5-11, 11-8, 11-8, 6-11, 11-8, 11-5).

A surprise win for Emmanuel Lebesson but perhaps not; there was a sense of déjà vu; the most recent meeting against Marcos Freitas on the international stage had been in the initial stage of the Men’s Team event at the Liebherr 2015 European Championships in Ekaterinburg. Emmanuel Lebesson had won in three straight games.

Likewise, added to his higher status on the Men’s World Rankings, Simon Gauzy was able to enter his confrontation with Robert Gardos in a confident frame of mind; the most recent confrontation on the international stage had been at the NN Table Tennis Club 2015 Europe Top 16. In a tense contest, Simon Gauzy had prevailed in seven games.

“Robi is known as a one of the strongest players and he is big fighter. I managed to push him back from the table with my forehand; that put me in good position to control the game”, Simon Gauzy

Success for France, there was also success for Germany in the guise of Timo Boll and Poland represented by Jakub Dyjas, as play progressed in the last eight of the Men’s Singles event.

Timo Boll, the no.4 seed, asserted his authority on proceedings by ending the adventures of Finland’s Benedek Olah, the no.32 seed (6-11, 8-11, 11-8, 11-3, 11-5, 11-8) in their first ever meeting at international level; the win coming after Jakub Dyjas had continued his progress unabated.

The no.19 seed, he upset the odds by beating Kou Lei, the number 15 seed (6-11, 11-4, 11-9, 11-6, 11-7) and thus repeated the success he had enjoyed over the Ukrainian in the Men’s Team event last year in Ekaterinburg and earlier this year at the Perfect 2016 World Team Championships.

“Against Kou Lei I was little bit worried because of my service but it worked fine”, Jakub Dyjas

At the semi-final stage Jakub Dyjas meets Emmanuel Lebesson. Timo Boll confronts Simon Gauzy; play concludes on Sunday 23rd October.

 

 

Liebherr EC Timo Boll Simon Gauzy Emmanuel Lebesson Robert Gardos Jakub Dyjas Kou Lei Benedek Olah Maros Freitas