19 Sep 2018

Two months earlier in mid-July they had contested the Junior Boys’ Singles final at the European Youth Championships in the Romanian city of Cluj-Napoca. In the Spanish resort of Alicante, at the Liebherr 2018 ITTF European Championships, both had made impressive starts, competing in a qualification event in which they were drawn respectively in groups that contained the highest ranked players.

Ioannis Sgouropoulos of Greece and Sweden’s Truls Moregard, the former having prevailed in Romania, entered the second day of action, Wednesday 19th September, unbeaten; however, at the end of the day, the fortunes were very different.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Truls Moregard, 16 years old, caused arguably the biggest upset to date in the whole tournament; he beat England’s Paul Drinkhall, the second highest rated player on initial phase duty (11-8, 11-7, 11-9, 6-11, 11-9).

The win meant first place in the group for the Swedish teenager, for Paul Drinkhall runners up spot and a place in the lottery; a total of 23 groups in the initial qualification phase, 18 second placed players are drawn at random to compete in preliminary round.

A notable win to complete the group matches for Truls Moregard; for Ioannis Sgouropoulos it was defeat but not unexpected. He lost to Tomislav Pucar, the highest rated player on first phase duty; he was beaten in five games (10-12, 11-1, 11-9, 11-5, 11-9), a margin of victory that secured top spot for the Croatian and elimination for Ioannis Sgouropoulos.

One day earlier in the opening match Tomislav Pucar had lost to Marko Jevtovic in seven games (9-11, 11-8, 11-8, 10-12, 11-8, 4-11, 12-10); in the next series of matches, in a contest just as close, Ioannis Sgouropoulos had beaten Marko Jevtovic (11-7, 11-5, 6-11, 8-11, 9-11, 11-9, 13-11). Thus games ratio determined the positions; Tomislav Pucar finished in first place (7:5) with Marko Jevtovic second (7:7) and Ioannis Sgouropoulos third (5:7).

First place for Truls Moregard by beating the highest rated in his group in his concluding group stage contest; amongst the top eight groups on qualification stage duty it was the same for Ukraine’s Yaroslav Zhmudenko and Denmark’s Tobias Rasmussen. Yaroslav Zhmudenko beat Belgium’s Florent Lambiet (11-6, 2-11, 4-11, 9-11, 11-7, 13-11, 11-7), Tobias Rasmussen accounted for Italy’s Mihai Bobocica (13-11, 11-8, 3-11, 10-12, 4-11, 11-4, 11-7).

Problems for leading names but not for Frenchman Can Akkuzu, the Czech Republic’s Lubomir Jancarik and Romania’s Hunor Szocs, nor for Russia’s Alexander Shibaev; all remained unbeaten to secure first places in the respective groups and thus passports to the main draw.

2018 Liebherr European Championships Truls Moregard Ioannis Sgouropoulos

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