07 Feb 2017

A brave run, a brave effort but it was defeat for Kou Lei at the semi-final stage of the Men’s event at the 2017 ITTF-Europe Top 16 Cup in Antibes on Sunday 5th February.

Making his debut, the first ever male player to represent Ukraine in the prestigious tournament which first witnessed the light of day with at test event in 1971 in Zadar won by Hungary’s Istvan Jonyer, the 28 year old came very close to causing a major upset.

by Ian Marshall & Simon Daish

The no.12 seed, he mounted a quite outstanding recovery, before eventually having to accept defeat; after losing the first three games against Dimitrij Ovtcharov, he won the next three before the German star brought mind, body and soul together to win the decider (11-8, 11-9, 11-8, 10-12, 3-11, 2-11, 11-6).

Eventual success for Dimitrij Ovtcharov who, in his excitement, had perhaps had forgotten, his defeat three years ago

“Of course I’m happy to be in the final. The opponents, all 16 in Europe are extremely tough. It’s my fourth final in the past five years and I hope I can make it and win this final”, Dimitrij Ovtcharov.

It was his fourth consecutive semi-final in five years but not his fourth penultimate round success. In 2014 in Lausanne he was beaten by Denmark’s Michael Maze in the penultimate round but in 2012 in Lyon, then 2015 in Baku and most recently last year in Gondomar he progressed to win the event. There was no competition in 2013.

A hard fought seven games encounter, it was similar in the counterpart semi-final; with Russia’s Alexander Shibaev, the no.14 seed, causing somewhat of an upset. He beat Frenchman Simon Gauzy, the no.5 seed, in six games (11-7, 11-9, 8-11, 12-10, 8-11, 11-9).

Tense times and understandable, places in the forthcoming Liebherr 2017 Men’s World Cup are at stake; the top three gain automatic invitations. However, past experience suggests that a top six finish may well be sufficient to reserve a place.

In the contest for fifth position, Germany’s Timo Boll beat Croatia’s Andrej Gacina (11-5, 11-8, 13-11, 11-3); meanwhile, in the engagement to determine seventh position, Portugal’s Tiago Apolonia overcame Austria’s Stefan Fegerl (11-4, 11-8, 11-7, 11-8).

 Day Three: 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 Dimitrij Ovtcharov Simon Gauzy Kou Lei Alexander Shibaev

No results found.