20 Sep 2018

Bronze medallists two years ago in Budapest, for the Portuguese partnership of Tiago Apolonia and João Geraldo there will be no such place on the podium when play concludes at the Liebherr 2018 ITTF European Championships in Alicante, Spain.

Alongside Pavel Platonov and Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus, they were the biggest names to fall in the opening round of the Men’s Doubles event on the late morning of Thursday 20th September.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Tiago Apolonia and João Geraldo, the no.10 seeds, suffered at the hands of what must technically be the ideal partnership.

They were beaten by the combination of the host nation’s Jesus Cantero, a right handed pen-holder and Serbia’s Aleksandar Karakasevic, a left handed shake-hands grip player; that combination brought China’s Chen Qi and Ma Lin both Olympic Games and World Championships titles! The Portuguese duo experienced defeat in five games (11-9, 12-14, 11-8, 11-7, 11-5).

Defeat in five games for Tiago Apolonia and João Geraldo, it was defeat in one game more for Pavel Platonov and Vladimir Samsonov, the no.6 seeds; they lost to the combination of formed by Romania’s Hunor Szocs and Hungary’s Tamas Lakatos (3-11, 11-9, 11-9, 8-11, 11-4, 11-8).

The end of the road at the opening hurdle for two pairs of note, lower down the order three more departed contrary to expectations.

Diogo Carvalho and Diogo Chen balanced the books for Portugal by beating Belgium’s Martin Allegro and Florent Lambiet, the no.11 seeds by the very narrowest of decisions (7-11, 11-9, 11-2, 7-11, 11-6, 4-11, 11-9). Rather less dramatically, the partnership comprising Denmark’s Tobias Rasmussen and England’s Sam Walker overcame Slovenia’s Darko Jorgic and Bojan Tokic, the no.15 seeds (11-7, 12-10, 12-14, 11-9, 7-11, 11-9); similarly, Sweden’s Truls Moregard and Jon Persson ended the hopes of Frenchmen Alexandre Robinot and Joe Seyfried, the no.16 seeds (6-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-8, 13-11, 11-11).

Problems for five seeded pairings and there were problems for two more but with a positive end result. England’s Paul Drinkhall and Liam Pitchford, the no.5 seeds, eventually overcame Bulgaria’s Teodoro Alexandrov and Denislav Kodjabashev by the narrowest of seven games margins (7-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-9, 8-11, 7-11, 11-9); only slightly more comfortably Poland’s Marek Badowski and Patryk Zatowka, the no.14 seeds, defeated the partnership formed by Sllovakia’s Lubomir Pistej and Ioannis Sgouropoulos of Greece (11-5, 7-11, 11-6, 11-6, 7-11, 7-11, 11-3).

Success but hard earned success; for the leading pairs life was less fraught. The top seeded partnership of Germany’s Patrick Franziska and Jonathan Groth, the defending champions, very much set the example; they opened their account with victory in opposition to Switzerland’s Lionel Weber and Croatia’s Filip Cipin (11-7, 11-7, 11-7, 11-9).

“Since last European title, we have played a lot together at tournaments, won three or four of them. We are very confident in each other.” Patrick Franziska

Impressive from the defending champions; it was the same from Sweden’s Mattias Falck and Kristian Karlsson, the no.2 seeds, who beat Italy’s Mihai Bobocica and Leonardo Mutti (5-11, 11-7, 11-3, 11-8, 11-7), as it was from the next in line. Like Patrick Franziska from Germany, Ruwen Filus and Ricardo Walther, the no.3 seeds, accounted for Ukraine’s Kou Lei and Viktor Yefimov (11-7, 11-9, 11-6, 4-11, 11-6); Austria’s Robert Gardos and Dabiel Habesson ended the hopes of Luxembourg’s Luka Mladenovic who teamed with Latvia’s Arturs Reinhold (11-8, 11-9, 11-7, 11-8).

The second round of the Men’s Doubles event will be played on Friday 21st September.

2018 Liebherr European Championships Tiago Apolonia Aleksandar Karakasevic João Geraldo Pavel Platonov Jesus Cantero Vladmir Samsonov

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