by Simon Daish
Dimitrij Ovtcharov was one of the stand out players of the month, after the German enjoyed title victories on three occasions in February.
The first piece of silverware for Dimitrij Ovtcharov came at the 2017 ITTF Europe Top 16 Cup in Antibes, France where some of Europe’s top rated players gathered for the three day spectacle hosted between Friday 3rd and Sunday 5th February at the Azur Arena.
There were plenty of shocks in Antibes with the likes of Vladimir Samsonov and Hu Melek making early exits from the Europe Top 16 event, but Ovtcharov avoided such a fate as the 28-year-old defeated Russia’s Alexander Shibaev (11-8, 12-14, 11-5, 11-13, 11-8, 11-8) to win the Men’s Singles title while Li Jie of the Netherlands received the Women’s Singles crown.
Success in Antibes was only the start of a wonderful month for Dimitrij Ovtcharov, who went on to retain the Men’s Singles trophy at the DHS 2017 Lausanne Open in Switzerland on Sunday 12th February with his triumph over Portugal’s Marcos Freitas in the final (12-10, 11-8, 11-7, 13-15, 16-14).
New Delhi played host to the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour India Open where fans were treated to exciting developments at the Thyagaraj Sports Complex.
The Women’s Singles draw was won by Japan’s Sakura Mori who finished ahead of Matilda Ekholm in a thrilling final (7-11, 11-5, 11-8, 12-10, 6-11, 8-11, 11-6), and Dimitrij Ovtcharov completed a trio of title successes for the month when he beat 13-year-old star Tomokazu Harimoto of Japan in straight games (11-6, 11-8, 11-4, 14-12).
China was the dominant nation at the opening ITTF World Tour event of the year when Budapest hosted the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Hungarian Open, and it was a similar story at the first Platinum competition of 2017 as three of the four senior titles on offer at the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Qatar Open went to Chinese competitors.
Ma Long emerged triumphant over Fan Zhendong yet again in Doha to capture the Men’s Singles crown (11-8, 11-8, 11-7, 5-11, 6-11, 11-4), while Chen Meng sealed her first piece of silverware in 2017 when she beat Wang Manyu (12-10, 11-9, 11-6, 2-11, 11-6) to the Women’s Singles title.
Both of the Women’s Singles finalists also proved to be strong partners as Chen Meng and Wang Manyu combined well to take the Women’s Doubles trophy, and it was Japan’s Masataka Morizono and Yuya Oshima who prevailed in the Men’s Doubles tournament.
Germany’s Chantal Mantz and Croatia’s Tomislav Pucar were the surprise victors at the Stag 2017 European Under 21 Championships in Sochi, Russia after they defeated Wan Yuan (8-11, 11-9, 5-11, 12-10, 11-6, 11-7) and Qiu Dang (11-6, 11-2, 9-11, 14-12, 11-9) respectively.
Maki Shiomi can feel fairly pleased with her performance in February, after the Japanese player competed in two Junior Girls’ Singles finals. The 2017 Czech Junior and Cadet Open saw Maki Shiomi overcome fellow compatriot Miyu Nagasaki (11-8, 4-11, 11-9, 7-11, 11-9, 11-7) in the final, but she wasn’t able to replicate that result in Metz as Maki Shiomi lost out to Azerbaijan’s Ning Jing (11-4, 11-9, 6-11, 11-8, 8-11, 8-11, 7-11) at the 2017 French Junior and Cadet Open.