04 Feb 2017

Knowing an opponent well, few are as familiar with each other as Croatia’s Andrej Gacina and Marcos Freitas; if there was a contest as play started in the Men’s event at the 2017 ITTF-Europe Top 16 Cup in the French Riviera resort of Antibes, that was the contest where seeding and ranking counted for nought.

Perhaps the outcome was no surprise in realistic terms; the surprise was the margin of victory.

by Ian Marshall & Simon Daish

Andrej Gacina, the no.9 seed, emerged successful against the no.4 seed and winner three years ago in Lausanne in three straight games (11-9, 11-7, 11-3).

“I’m happy, I played really well and I had good tactics. It was important to change the tactics all the time during the match I was leading the match all the time and this gave me confidence. I received his serve really well which was key; after that it was much easier. We are teammates in Russia we know each other very well, we have played many times. I will give my best and see what happens”, Andrej Gacina

Not only do both play for UMMC in the Russian League, they have been opponents and doubles partners for the vast majority of the current century. Together, they have two ITTF World Tour Men’s Doubles’ titles to their credit; the won in Poland in 2010 and five years later in Qatar.

Familiarity and quite incredibly there is another member of the UMMC club in the same group; on fact is certain with two players from each group gaining qualification for the quarter-finals, the Russian club will be represented by one if not two players.

In the corresponding group contest, Alexander Shibaev flew the Russian flag and upset the pecking order. The no.14 seed, he beat Sweden’s Kristian Karlsson, the no.8 seed (11-9, 3-11, 11-6, 11-8).

Defeat for one player named Karlsson; there was also defeat for another. Swedish compatriot and doubles partner, Mattias Karlsson, the no.10 seed, experienced defeat at the hands of Germany’s Timo Boll, the no.3 seed (11-4, 9-11, 7-11, 11-3, 11-9).

According to seeding, it was the same in the adjacent match in the group; Austria’s Stefan Fegerl, the no.6 seed, overcame Panagiotis Gionis of Greece, the no.16 seed (4-11, 11-5, 12-10, 5-11, 11-9).

 Day One: 2017 ITTF-Europe Top 16 Cup
Photos: Rémy Gros

2017 ITTF-Europe Top 16: Watch the proceedings unfold, live streaming from Antibes each day

Europe Top 16 Marcos Freitas Andrej Gacina

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