23 Oct 2016

Six times the winner, a record twice that of any other player in the history of the European Championships, Germany’s Timo Boll, the no.4 seed, was forced to withdraw from proceedings at the end of the third game of his Men’s Singles semi-final contest against Frenchman Simon Gauzy at the Liebherr 2016 ITTF-European Championships in Budapest on the morning of Sunday 23rd October against Frenchman, Simon Gauzy.

Trailing by two games to one (9-11, 11-8, 11-6) against the no.6 seed, a neck injury forced Boll's departure from the event.

by Ian Marshall & Simon Daish

It was exactly the same injury that Timo Boll had suffered at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games when prior to playing Joo Saehyuk in the Men’s Team bronze medal fixture, he had taken a series of pain-killing injections.

Two months on and more neck issues have arisen for Boll in his semi-finals encounter with Simon Gauzy at the 2016 European Championships. The sixth seed Gauzy had come from behind to lead Boll 2-1, when the German player decided to call it a day and reduce the risk of further injury damage.

“It made no sense, with myself only at 50 percent to continue to play. At The Olympic Games, I suffered the same injury and fought for the team, I then spent six weeks out… Of course it is a decision that hurts” – Timo Boll (Germany).

A disappointing end to the semi-final duel but it does mean that history is made; for the first time ever since the tournament was inaugurated in Budapest in 1958, the final will be an all-French affair, with Simon Gauzy set to take on Emmanuel Lebesson for the title.

In the corresponding penultimate round duel, Emmanuel Lebesson, the no.15 seed, ended the progress of Poland’s Jakub Dyjas, the no.19 seed; he prevailed in five games (11-8, 11-5, 5-11, 11-6, 11-6).

The only Frenchman ever to reach the Men’s Singles final at a European Championships prior to this year’s tournament in Budapest, is Jacques Secretin; it a feat that Jean-Philippe Gatien, despite being anointed World champion in Gothenburg in 1993 never achieved.
Jacques Secretin beat the Soviet Union’s Anatali Strokatov in the title deciding match in Prague in 1976; now 40 years later he has a successor.

Liebherr 2016 European Championships: Watch live on Laola 1.TV

Liebherr EC Timo Boll