19 Sep 2018

The Junior Boys’ Singles title successfully defended some two months ago in Cluj-Napoca at the European Youth Championships; moving at least one level higher, Ioannis Sgouropoulos of Greece was very much the player in focus on Tuesday 28th September, at the Liebherr 2018 ITTF European Championships in Alicante, Spain.

On the opening day of play, he impressed.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

In his opening contest he beat Slovakia’s Samuel Novota in five games (13-11, 10-12, 11-9, 11-9, 13-11), a noteworthy performance, one with which he was delighted and perhaps slightly relieved.

“It is always difficult to play a first match at a Championships; it was especially hard for me this time, I had never played Novota before. I kept him close to the table and luckily I found a good rhythm from the start.” Ioannis Sgouropoulos

An impressive opening win, his next was equally impressive but a close call, the 18 year old Greek overcame Serbia’s Marko Jevtovic (11-7, 11-5, 6-11, 8-11, 9-11, 11-9, 13-11).

Success Ioannis Sgouropoulos as anticipated but there were problems for one leading name; listed at no.86 in the current global order, Belgium’s Florent Lambiet, the fourth highest ranked player on duty in the initial phase of affairs, experienced difficulties. He beat Hallur Thorsteinsson from the Faroe Islands (11-7, 11-3, 11-7, 11-7), prior to experiencing defeat at the hands of Portugal’s Diogo Chen (11-9, 11-8, 4-11, 11-4, 11-7).

Success for Diogo Chen but it may well prove insufficient to gain first place in the group; in his opening contest he was beaten by Ukraine’s Yaroslav Zhudmenko, a quite titanic struggle in which a spirited recovery was thwarted by the very narrowest of decisions (11-7, 11-7, 11-9, 7-11, 12-14, 11-13, 15-13). An early success for Yaroslav Zhudmenko; he remains the one unbeaten player in the group after two series of matches. On his second visit to the table he overcame Hallur Thorsteinsson (11-9, 11-4, 11-3, 11-6).

Surprise defeats but not for the remaining leading names on first phase duty; England’s Paul Drinkhall, Frenchman Can Akkuzu and the Czech Republic’s Lubomir Jancarik all ended the day unbeaten as did Italy’s Mihai Bobocica, Romania’s Hunor Szocs and Russia’s Alexander Shibaev.

Players finishing in first places in each of the 23 qualification groups advance directly to the main draw. Drawn at random 18 players who finish in second positions will compete in a preliminary round for the next nine places; qualification concludes on Wednesday 19th September.

2018 Liebherr European Championships Ioannis Sgouropoulos

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