by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
The win recorded by Matilda Ekholm was arguably no great surprise; at the 2016 European Olympic Games Qualification Tournament in Halmstad, Matilda Ekholm had beaten Sofia Polcanova without surrendering a single game.
Conversely, the victory secured by Bernadette Szocs was contrary to recent meetings on the international scene. On the ITTF World Tour Georgina Pota had prevailed when they met in the Women’s Singles event in Belgium in 2014 and 2016; most pertinently she had emerged victorious when the drew swords at the 2014 Europe Top 12 in Baku and at last year’s Europe Top 16 in Antibes.
“I am so happy. I lost so many times against her in the past. I believed in myself and I believed I could win. It is my first semi-final. It is unbelievable.” Bernadette Szocs
Success for Romania and there was further success, Elizabeta Samara, the no.3 seed, added to Austrian pain by earlier in the evening overcoming Liu Jia, the no.7 seed (11-4, 7-11, 11-3. 11-7, 13-11), the winner in 2005 in Rennes as well is in 2014 in Lausanne and in the immediately ensuing year on Baku.
“I felt much better than this morning. I took the full control from the beginning. Even when I lost the third game I was sure I could come back. I was very confident.” Elizabeta Samara
Defeat for one former champion but not for the defending champion; Li Jie of the Netherlands, the top seed, reserved her last four place by overcoming Germany’s Sabine Winter, the no.13 seed (11-5, 11-4, 10-12, 11-5, 11-8), a player she had beaten in the penultimate round one year ago in Antibes.
“Winter is a player who has very good feeling against defenders. I beat her last year but I lost so many times before. The key thing today was that I felt calm, relaxed. I was not under pressure although the match could easily have gone the other way.” Li Jie
At the semi-final stage Li Jie plays Elizabeta Samara, Bernadette Szocs opposes Matilda Ekholm. Play in Montreux concludes on Sunday 4th February.