04 Feb 2017

Three times winner of the Men’s World Cup; successful in Xiaolan in 1999, three years later in Courmayeur and more recently in 2009 in Moscow, the dream of competing later this year in the prestigious tournament is a distant dream for Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus.

The no.2 seed in the Men’s event at the 2017 ITTF-Europe Top 16 Cup in Antibes, France; having suffered defeat in his opening first stage contest, later in the day on Friday 3rd February, Vladimir Samsonov experienced the same fate in his second encounter.

by Ian Marshall & Simon Daish

Beaten by Frenchman, Emmanuel Lebesson, the no.11 seed (13-15, 11-4, 6-1, 11-6, 11-9); he experienced defeat at the hands of Portugal’s Tiago Apolonia, the no.7 seed (12-10, 8-11, 11-5, 15-13).

Earlier, in his opening contest, Tiago Apolonia had accounted for Ukraine’s Kou Lei, the 12 seed (8-11, 11-7, 11-9, 9-11, 11-7) and remains the only unbeaten player in the group. In the second series of matches, Kou Lei overcame Emmanuel Lebesson in three straight games (11-8, 11-9, 11-3).

Defeat for one former Men’s World Cup winner but not for a second; German’s Timo Boll, who emerged successful in Jinan in 2002 and three years later in Liège, maintained his winning ways. The no.3 seed, he beat Austria’s Stefan Fegerl, the no.6 seed, in four games (9-11, 11-3, 11-5, 11-8).

Meanwhile, in the same group, for Panagiotis Gionis of Greece, the no.15 seed, narrowly beaten by Stefan Fegerl in his opening match (7-11, 11-5, 12-10, 5-11, 11-9); it was back to winning ways.

He accounted for Sweden’s Mattias Karlsson, the no.10 seed (11-5, 11-9, 13-11).

“I think I played quite good against Mattias Karlsson, I was concentrating well. I think also that I like how my opponent was playing this time. I was very focused, I needed to win this game three-nil or three-one to have a very small chance to qualify. If I had beaten Fegerl it would have been good for me. Maybe in the second game against Mattias I lost a little bit of my concentration; but in the end I was fine”, Panagiotis Gionis.

After two series of matches Timo Boll is the only unbeaten player in the group.

 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 Vladimir Samsonov Panagiotis Gionis

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