by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Impressive to say the least, there was no stopping the French trio of Simon Gauzy, Emmanuel Lebesson and Quenton Robinot; not one individual game was surrendered against the trio formed by Ioannis Sgouropoulos, Panagiotis Gionis and Konstantinos Papageogiou.
Simon Gauzy beat Ioannis Sgouropoulos, the young man who recently won the Junior Boys’ Singles title at the European Youth Championships (11-8, 11-6, 11-9), before Emmanuel Lebesson accounted for Panagiotis Gionis (11-6, 11-6, 11-6) and Quentin Robinot concluded matters by overcoming Konstantinos Papageorgiou (11-8, 11-6, 11-6).
An outstanding performance from France, it was very much the same from Portugal with Marcos Freitas the backbone of victory. He beat Tomislav Pucar in the opening match of the fixture (11-2, 11-8, 11-5), before in the fourth contest overcoming Andrej Gacina (11-4, 11-8, 6-11, 9-11, 11-9); the engagement which brought matters to a close.
“I won against Gacina. He is my doubles partner since mini and cadet days, we practise together and we are close friends. I know he wants to win a medal for his country. I know his style and technique well, it wasn’t easy, we know each other so well.” Marcos Freitas
Sandwiched in between, Andrej Gacina had beaten Tiago Apolonia by the narrowest of margins (11-3, 12-10, 7-11, 13-15, 11-9) to level matters before João Monteiro had given Portugal the advantage by overcoming Tomislav Kolarek in the third match of the engagement (11-3, 9-11, 11-3, 11-4).
“I am very disappointed, because the match against Marcos was so close. Although he is ranked number 17 and I am 51, I beat him three-nil the last time we met. Today, I think he had a little bit more luck in the last game than me. I felt no pressure playing the deciding game. From the start our team believed we had a 50:50 chance of winning. We did not enter the Championships with a pre-defined plan, we just wanted to give our best.” Andrej Gacina
France now meets Portugal at the semi-final stage, in the opposite half of the draw it is Germany versus Slovenia; the fixtures will be played on Saturday 16th September.