by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
The 27 year old, making only his second appearance in the tournament, his debut being last year in Antibes when finishing in third place in his group and not thus not progressing to the main draw, rose to the occasion.
Occupying the no.8 seeded position in the competition, he beat Russia’s Alexander Shibaev, the no.14 seed (4-11, 11-6, 11-6, 11-5, 12-10) to keep his hopes of a place in the Liebherr 2018 Men’s World Cup very much alive; a top three finish is needed to reserve a spot in the prestigious annual event.
“I did not start well because my first match against Tiago Apolonia was still in my mind. At the beginning of the second game I felt bad. I told that to my coach but I kept fighting. Shibaev is not an easy adversary to beat, I felt uncomfortable with his service game The key was to keep fighting for each ball.” Jonathan Groth
Success for Jonathan Groth, a result that reflects the consistent improvement the Dane is making; on the 2013 ITTF World Tour in the Czech Republic he was beaten by Alexander Shibaev.
Impressive from Jonathan Groth, it was the same from Timo Boll, Dimitrij Ovtcharov and Vladimir Samsonov.
Winner of the Europe Top 12 on five occasions, Timo Boll, the no.2 seed, beat colleague, Bastian Steger, the no.10 seed (11-7, 9-11, 11-5, 13-11, 11-6); Dimitrij Ovtcharov four times the champion and the top seed in Montreux ended the adventures of Greek defender, Panagiotis Gionis, the no.15 seed (11-7, 12-10, 7-11, 11-9, 13-11).
“The balls were different from the afternoon session, so it was not that much about tactics it was about putting the ball on the table. The fourth game was very important; when I won that close game it opened the door for fast victory.” Timo Boll
Meanwhile, not to be left, Vladimir Samsonov, the no.9 seed and also four times a winner, ended the hopes of Sweden’s Mattias Karlsson, the no.12 seed (11-9, 11-8, 11-7, 10-12, 14-12).
“I am in very good shape here. I needed all my skills to beat Mattias. In the opening game I was 7-9 down. In the fourth Karlsson took his game to another level. If I did not win the fifth game I do not know how this duel would have ended. It was very close.” Vladimir Samsonov
At the semi-final stage Dimitrij Ovtcharov meets Jonathan Groth, Vladimir Samsonov opposes Timo Boll.
Proceedings conclude in Montreux on Sunday 4th February.