by Ian Marshall and Simon Daish
Occupying the no.5 seed position, after being beaten by Romania’s Bernadette Szocs, the no.14 seed, in her opening contest (6-11, 12-10, 11-8, 8-11, 12-10), the 30 year old experienced defeat at the hands of fellow defender, Li Jie of the Netherlands, the no.4 seed.
Furthermore, it was yet another heart breaking defeat by the very minimal two points in the deciding fifth games, the margin in the decider the same as earlier in the day (7-11, 6-11, 11-9, 11-9, 12-10).
“I’m feeling really good after the match. I’m very happy. At two-nil down I was thinking it was better to play like in practice and this way I was able to stay mentally calm”, Li Jie.
Success for Li Jie and a vital success; in her opening contest she had been beaten by Viktoria Pavlovich of Belarus, the no.12 seed (11-7, 14-12, 12-10). Victory for Viktoria Pavlovich but not in her second contest; she lost to Bernadette Szocs (11-4, 11-6, 8-11, 13-11). The Romanian remains the only unbeaten player in the group.
Fine form from Bernadette Szocs; it has been the very same from compatriot, Daniela Monteiro-Dodean.
The no.10 seed, in her opening contest she accounted for Turkey’s Hu Melek, the top seed and reigning European champion (13-11, 11-8, 11-9).
An upset and in the counterpart group stage contest, there was nearly another. Hungary’s Georgina Pota, the no.6 seed, needed the full five games to beat Austria’s Sofia Polcanova, the no.11 seed, only emerging successful by the minimal two point margin in the deciding fifth game (11-4, 5-11, 12-10, 8-11, 12-10).
Defeat for the top seed but not for the next two names in the order of merit.
Germany’s Petrissa Solja, the no.2 seed, who in her opening match had beaten Ukraine’s Tetyana Bilenko, the no.13 seed (8-11, 11-8, 8-11, 11-7, 11-6), continued her good form to overcome Sweden’s Matilda Ekholm, the no.7 seed (11-6, 12-10, 8-11, 11-5).
Disappointment for Tetyana Bilenko, not on her second visit to the table; she overcame the host nation’s Stéphanie Loeuillette, the no.16 seed (11-9, 7-11, 5-11, 11-7, 11-8) to keep quarter-final hopes alive.
Meanwhile, Austria’s Liu Jia, the no.3 seed, made an ideal start to her campaign; she overcame Russia’s Polina Mikhailova, the no.9 seed (9-11, 11-7, 11-7, 15-13).
A good start for Liu Jia; in the same group it was a good start for Sabine Winter, like Petrissa Solja from Germany. The no.2 seed, she accounted for the Slovak Republic’s Barbora Balazova, the no.15 seed (7-11, 11-7, 12-10, 12-14, 11-9).
Photos: Rémy Gros
2017 ITTF-Europe Top 16: Watch the proceedings unfold, live streaming from Antibes each day