20 Sep 2018

An opening round Women’s Doubles success for Elizabeta Samara and Bernadette Szocs, the no.2 seeds, on the morning of Thursday 20th September at the Liebherr 2018 ITTF European Championships in Alicante but they were not the Romanian pair to attract the attention.

The partnership to shine was that of Adina Diaconu and Irina Ciobanu.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Elizabeta Samara and Bernadette Szocs duly accounted for Serbia’s Izabela Lupulesku and Sabina Surjan (11-2, 7-11, 11-6, 11-5, 11-5); the win coming after Adina Diaconu and Irina Ciobanu had caused what was the prove the biggest upset in the opening round. They beat Poland’s Natalia Partyka and Katarzyna Grzybowska, the no.6 seeds and silver medallists at the 2014 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals in Bangkok; they emerged successful in six games (9-11, 11-5, 11-9, 11-13, 14-12, 11-2).

“Playing against one of the best pairings here was a difficult task. Especially for us, since we do not play often together. We had only few training sessions together before this championship. We were very focused in the match.” Irina Ciobanu

Success for Adina Diaconu and Irina Ciobanu contrary to expectations, it was the same for Portugal’s Fu Yu and Shao Jieni, as it was for Slovakia’s Tatiana Kukulkova and Eva Odorova. Fu Yu and Shao Jieni beat the defensive combination formed by Russia’s Polina Mikhailova and Viktoria Pavlovich of Belarus, the no.8 seeds (11-7, 8-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-7); Tatiana Kukulkova and Eva Odorova ended the hopes of Slovenia’s Alex Galic and Switzerland’s Rachel Moret, the no.12 seeds (10-12, 11-9, 11-6, 9-11, 11-6, 8-11, 11-7).

Defeats for three seeded pairings and there was almost defeat for one more; facing the French partnership of Laura Gasnier and Audrey Zarif, the host nation combination of Galia Dvorak and Maria Xiao, the no.11 seeds, survived by the very narrowest of margins. They won but only just (10-12, 14-12, 11-7, 11-6, 4-11, 3-11, 13-11).

Problems for notable pairing but there were no such difficulties for the highest rated. In addition to Elizabeta Samara and Bernadette Szocs, Sweden’s Matilda Ekholm in partnership with Hungary’s Georgina Pota, the top seeds, beat Spain’s Sara Ramirez and Zhang Xuan (13-11, 6-11, 11-3, 11-7, 11-9); likewise, Luxembourg’s Sara de Nutte and Ni Xialian, the no.3 seeds, accounted for Italy’s Giorgia Piccolin and Chiara Colantoni (11-2, 11-6, 11-8, 11-1).

Meanwhile, not to be overlooked, the Czech Republic’s Barbora Balazova and Hana Matelova, the no.4 seeds, ended the hopes of Russia’s Mariia Tailakova and Anastasia Kolish (6-11, 12-10, 11-6, 11-3, 11-5).

Imposing performances, notably there was also success in style for Germany’s Petrissa Solja and Sabine Winter, the winners in 2013 in Schwechat, the no.7 seeds in Alicante; they beat Lithuania’s Ruta Paskauskiene and Edgle Stuckyte in six games (9-11, 11-5, 11-9, 11-13, 14-12, 11-2).

“We feel very confident playing together. We have good experience and we hope to continue where we finished last time, in winning mode. The Lithuanian pairing had a very unusual style so it was not easy. We are aiming high and we hope we will be successful here.” Sabine Winter

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

2018 Liebherr European Championships Adina Diaconu Irina Ciobanu

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