by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Returning to his roots, Robert Gardos was born in Budapest where his father Gabor Gardos was a coach at the BVSC club, before moving to Austria when 14 years old; he caused the biggest upset of the round.
He beat Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus, the no.2 seed, in a full seven games duel (12-10, 11-8, 4-11, 6-11, 11-5, 7-11, 11-9) to end the aspirations of one of the greatest names in the history of the European Championships.
Vladimir Samsonov has appeared in no less than six Men’s Singles finals; he won in 1998 in Eindoven, in 2003 in Courmayeur and in 2005 in Aarhus. Later he was the runner up in 2007 in Belgrade, the following year in St Petersburg and in 2013 in Schwechat.
Success for Robert Gardos contrary to expectations; there were two more surprises as players strove for quarter-final places.
Finland’s Benedek Olah, the no.32 seed upset the odds by beating Poland’s Daniel Gorak, the no.30 seed.
Like Robert Gardos, Benedek Olah has Budapest connections. He spends much of his time practising in Budapest under the direction of Peter Aranyosi, his parents being born and bred in Hungary before moving to Finland where Benedek was born.
Similarly, Emmanuel Lebesson raised the eyebrows; the no.15 seed, he accounted for Austria’s Stefan Fegerl, the no.7 seed (11-6, 8-11, 12-10, 12-10, 10-12, 11-9); later Simon Gauzy added to French success. The no.6 seed, he accounted for Russia’s Alexander Shibaev, the no.9 seed (7-11, 11-6, 11-6, 9-11, 11-8, 12-10).
Success for Simon Gauzy as status predicted, it was the same in the remaining contests in round of last eight matches.
Poland’s Jakub Dyjas, the no.19 seed and the shock winner one day earlier against Germany’s Dimitrij Ovtcharov, the top seed and defending champion (11-13, 11-9, 4-11, 11-5, 11-8, 11-9) maintained his good form to beat Portugal’s João Monteiro, the no.20 seed (11-8, 11-7, 11-5, 9-11, 11-5).
Disappointment for Portugal but there was success; Marcos Freitas, the no.3 seed, accounted for Sweden’s Kristian Karlsson, the no.11 seed (6-11, 11-6, 11-4, 11-3, 11-7), whilst Timo Boll, the no.4 seed, kept German hopes alive by overcoming Denmark’s Jonathan Groth, the no.12 seed. He prevailed in a seven games encounter (7-11, 13-11, 1-11, 11-4, 8-11, 11-8, 11-1).
Success for Marcos Freitas and Timo Boll; there was also success for Ukraine’s Kou Lei; the no.16 seed. He ended the hopes of the last of the qualifiers by beating Sweden’s Anton Källberg (10-12, 11-8, 11-6, 11-9, 5-11, 11-9).
At the quarter-final stage Jakub Dyjas meets Kou Lei, Emmanuel Lebesson faces Marcos Freitas; in the opposite half of the draw, Timo Boll confronts Benedek Olah, Robert Gardos opposes Simon Gauzy.