21 Sep 2018

Crowned champion two years ago in Budapest, on the evening of Friday 21st September, the reign of Emmanuel Lebesson came to an end in Alicante, as did that of French colleague, Simon Gauzy, the player he had beaten in the final to claim the prestigious title.

Both experienced second round Men’s Singles defeats at the Liebherr 2018 ITTF European Championships, a fate that almost also befell, the most successful of them all; six times winner, Germany’s Timo Boll.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Emmanuel Lebesson, the no.15 seed, was beaten by Romania’s Ovidiu Ionescu the no.25 seed (11-9; 11-9, 12-10, 7-11, 11-7); Simon Gauzy, the no.3 seed, suffered at the hands of Benedikt Duda, the no.18 seed (6-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-6, 11-4, 10-12, 12-10), as Germany enjoyed success and France heartbreak.

“Two out of three opening games I lost after 9-9. Ionescu was better in the finish in each occasion; when he feels he is in control it is impossible to stop him. I am very disappointed but it is not the end of the World.” Emmanuel Lebesson

The defeats were experienced prior to Can Akkuzu almost causing a sensation and providing more than compensation for his beaten colleagues. Required to compete in the qualification stage, he extended Timo Boll the full seven games distance, suffering defeat by the very minimal two point margin, in what was arguably the match of the day (5-11, 11-8, 11-9, 9-11, 11-3, 8-11, 13-11).

Success for Timo Boll and Benedikt Duda; rather less dramatically there were wins for colleagues, Dimitrij Ovtcharov, Patrick Franziska and Ricardo Walther as the whole complement of German players booked third round places. Dimitrij Ovtcharov, the no.2 seed, beat Russian qualifier Alexander Shibaev (12-10, 6-11, 11-6, 11-7, 12-10); Patrick Franziska, the no.5 seed, overcame Slovenia’s Bojan Tokic, the no.22 seed (11-2, 16-14, 9-11, 11-7, 11-6). Likewise, Ricardo Walther, the no.14 seed, overcame the defensive attributes of Slovakia’s Wang Yang, the no.30 seed (11-8, 11-8, 7-11, 11-8, 12-10).

“That was one of the best matches I played recently. The one against Devos yesterday and this one against Shibaev proved that I am in very good shape.” Dimitrij Ovtcharov

Places in the third round for Timo Boll and Dimitrij Ovtcharov, both former champions; for one further past champion it was also success. Three times the winner, Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus, the no.9 seed, ended the hopes of Sweden’s Truls Moregard (12-10, 8-11, 6-11, 11-6, 11-8, 11-2); farewell but a second round appearance was no mean feat for the Swedish teenager born in 2002, four years after Vladimir Samsonov won his first European Men’s Singles title in 1998 in Eindhoven.

“After I won the opening game, I felt confident, but Moregard changed the pace of the game. I lost the next two games without making many mistakes. I was forced to change something. I started to play more aggressively in order to regain the control. Vladimir Samsonov

Progress for Vladimir Samsonov; there was also progress for several other notable names. Portugal’s Marcos Freitas, the no.4 seed, beat Austria’s Stefan Fegerl, the no.20 seed (11-5, 4-11, 12-14, 11-7, 11-4, 11-6); Denmark’s Jonathan Groth, the no.6 seed, ended the adventures of Portuguese qualifier, Diogo Carvalho (14-15, 11-4, 11-8, 11-2, 11-9).

Likewise, Sweden’s Kristian Karlsson, the no.8 seed, overcame Slovenia’s Darko Jorgic, the no.24 seed (10-12, 7-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-9, 11-8), whilst England’s Liam Pitchford and Austria’s Daniel Habesohn, players who excelled in August on the Seamaster 2018 World Tour, enjoyed success. Both beat in form qualifiers. Liam Pitchford, the no.10 seed, overcame João Geraldo, like Diogo Carvalho from Portugal (11-8, 11-9, 4-11, 4-11, 11-5, 11-9); Daniel Habesohn, the no.13 seed, ended the progress of Poland’s Marek Badowski (11-9, 11-3, 14-12, 8-11, 10-12, 11-8).

The second round and the quarter-finals of the Men’s Singles event will be played on Saturday 22nd September.

2018 Liebherr European Championships Timo Boll Simon Gauzy Emmanuel Lebesson

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