by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
A repeat success but also it was a debt settled; later in the year at the Liebherr 2017 World Championships in Düsseldorf, Daniela Monteiro Dodean had been the winner.
Defeat for Romania but there was success, hard fought success; Elizabeta Samara, the no.3 seed, eventually overcame Luxembourg’s Ni Xia Lian, the no.11 but she needed the full seven games to ensure victory (11-9, 14-12, 9-11, 11-7, 8-11, 5-11, 11-5).
Success for Elizabeta Samara and a second success in recent times, Elizabeta Samara had beaten Ni Xia Lian at the Liebherr 2017 European Team Championships in Luxembourg.
“When we saw the draw everyone was confident that I would win because I beat her at the European Championships in Luxembourg. I was not that sure, especially since I twisted my ankle few days ago. The pain is not that great but still it is always in the back on my mind. However, I started the match very calmly and maintained my patience to beat her.” Elizabeta Samara
Results as status advised but that was not the situation as the opening round of the Men’s Singles event advanced.
Denmark’s Jonathan Groth, the no.8 seed, beat Portugal’s Tiago Apolonia, the no.11 seed (11-5, 11-9, 11-8, 7-11, 11-7) but there was a shock in store for Ukraine’s Kou Lei, the no.7 seed. He was beaten by Panagiotis Gionis of Greece, the no.15 seed (11-13, 8-11, 17-15, 7-11, 11-8, 12-10, 11-5).
“At the beginning I was not in a good rhythm. I could not feel the ball, the spin, nothing worked; that is why I was two-one down. He played much better, unlike me who had many ups and downs, he was more stable with his game; then I got a grip on matters. I took control. Kou lost his confidence and I took advantage of the momentum. In the last game, which was crucial, I wanted to finish quickly. I was 7-0 in the lead. I was so tired and I wanted to conclude the duel as soon as possible.” Panagiotis Gionis
Success for Panagiotis Gionis and a reversal of fortunes; three years ago at the 2015 European Games in Baku, Kou Lei had prevailed in six games.