by Simon Daish
16 players will contest the Men’s Singles and Women’s Singles competitions in Montreux with the top three finishers in the respective events qualifying for the 2018 ITTF Men’s World Cup and 2018 ITTF Women’s World Cup.
Defending champion and current World no.1 Dimitrij Ovtcharov will have to negotiate the home crowd on day one after drawing the host nation’s Lionel Weber in the Round of 16 with either Panagiotis Gionis or late addition Kou Lei awaiting in the quarter-finals.
“I’ve been practising with Kou Lei the last few days and we are in good shape. I received many congratulations here in Switzerland for being world number one which is nice. And now I play Lionel, I will study his matches tonight.” Dimitrij Ovtcharov
“I was training with Dima this week for him to win the tournament. Now I am here too – I just arrived [to replace Marcos Freitas]. I am very “lucky” with the draw because I have never won against a defensive player.” Kou Lei [jokingly said]
Second seed Timo Boll has been handed a first round encounter with Borussia Dusseldorf teammate Stefan Fegerl while French star Simon Gauzy and Russia’s Alexander Shibaev, who reserved the top two steps at last year’s event in Antibes, will meet face-to-face once again.
“Yes, we are in the same club, and I never win in practice. At least if I lose I can watch the Super Bowl at home!” Timo Boll
Five-time champion Vladimir Samsonov will begin his campaign with a tricky tie against Sweden’s Kristian Karlsson and European champion Emmanuel Lebesson will take on ninth seed Bastian Steger.
Over in the Women’s Singles draw, Germany’s Petrissa Solja is chasing her first ever gold medal on the Europe Top 16 stage and will open her 2018 account opposing fourth seed Georgina Pota.
Li Jie enjoyed a stunning campaign last year, defying the odds to lift the trophy in Antibes and she begins her title defence against Polina Mikhailova.
Three Romanians have made the trip to Montreux including Daniela Monteiro Dodean, who once again faces Austria’s Liu Jia at the Europe Top 16 while Rachel Moret will try and spring an upset as she does battle with no.5 seed Sofia Polcanova.
“I have played against Liu Jia at every Top 16, so again here in Montreux. It will be a difficult match.” Daniela Monteiro Dodean
“I will of course try my best, and I am happy to play here in Montreux in front of the Swiss fans.” Rachel Moret
The action gets underway in Montreux from 10.00am (local time) on Saturday 3rd February.