by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
Trailing three games to one Simon Gauzy mounted a brave recovery to level matters at three games apiece; however, in the deciding seventh game the advantage was always with Alexander Shibaev. He led 5-3 at the change of ends, Simon Gauzy levelled at 5-all but never held the lead.
At 10-7, Alexander Shibaev held three match points; he needed just one.
“I had a good start but then I lost my focus. However despite Gauzy’s recovery I did not lose faith. I was sure if I continued to play my game I would be control again. It was tactically a hard match but the most important tactic for me was to play my game and to attack with forehand.” Alexander Shibaev.
An upset in the opening contest in the Men’s Singles event, it was exactly the same in the counterpart Women’s Singles competition; the smooth forehand in motion, Germany’s Sabine Winter, the no.13 seed, accounted for Poland’s Li Qian, the no.6 seed and winner in 2009 in Düsseldorf.
“I had to put my top spin strokes on the table and avoid any direct attacks. The key was patience. You have to have it a lot against such players.” Sabine Winter
Gaining in confidence after winning a close fourth game to level matters, Sabine Winter moved from strength to strength to seal an impressive victory (11-6, 9-11, 4-11, 14-12, 11-5, 11-5) and thus repeated the success of just under two years earlier, when she had beaten Li Qian on the opening round of the Women’s Singles event at the 2016 ITTF World Tour German Open in Berlin.
The seeding for the China Construction Bank 2018 ITTF Europe Top 16 Cup is based on the recently issued February World Rankings.
Men: 1. (1) Dimitrij Ovtcharov (GER) 2. (3) Timo Boll (GER) 3. (9) Simon Gauzy (FRA) 4. (19) Kristian Karlsson (SWE) 5. (20) Ruwen Filus (GER) 6. (24) Emmanuel Lebesson (FRA) 7. (26) Kou Lei (UKR) 8. (29) Jonathan Groth (DEN) 9. (32) Vladimir Samsonov (BLR) 10. (33) Bastien Steger (GER) 11. (34) Tiago Apolonia (POR) 12. (36) Mattias Karlsson (SWE) 13. (47) Stefan Fegerl (AUT) 14. (62) Alexander Shibaev (RUS) 15. (91) Panagiotis Gionis (GRE) 16 (171) Lionel Weber (SUI)
Women: 1. (10) Li Jie (NED) 2. (20) Sofia Polcanova (AUT) 3. (24) Elizabeta Samara (ROU) 4. (27) Georgina Pota 5. (33) Matilda Ekholm (SWE) 6. (35) Li Qian (POL) 7. (38) Liu Jia (AUT) 8. (40) Bernadette Szocs (ROU) 9. (44) Polina Mikhailova (RUS) 10. (49) Viktoria Pavlovich (BLR) 11. (54) Ni Xia Lian (LUX) 12. (64) Petrissa Solja (GER) 13. (65) Sabine Winter (GER) 14. (85) Rachel Moret (SUI) 15. (89) Daniela Monteiro-Dodean (ROU) 16. (124) Tetyana Bilenko (UKR)
February World Ranking appears in brackets