01 Feb 2019

Time and again the players will tell you that the first match is often the most difficult; it takes time to acclimatize to the environment, time to gain a feeling for the ball, time to establish a rhythm.

Organised on a knock-out basis, no second chances; at the CCB 2019 Europe Top 16 Cup which commences in Montreux, Switzerland on Saturday 2nd February, the top seeds will need to be razor sharp from the very start.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

In the men’s singles event, in the opening round Germany’s Timo Boll, the top seed and six times champion, faces Portugal’s Tiago Apolonia, the no.13 seed; however, it is his potential opponent at the semi-final stage that attracts the attention.

He appears in the same half of the draw as colleague, Dimitrij Ovtcharov, the no.3 seed, and the player he beat in the final one year ago, Dimitrij Ovtcharov starts his campaign against Ukraine’s Kou Lei, the no.3 seed.

An intriguing possibility, in the lower half of the draw, Sweden’s Mattias Falck, the no.2 seed, starts his quest for a place in the ITTF Men’s World Cup later in the year by facing the Greek defender Panagiotis Gionis, the 14 seed. However, the name of the player who awaits the winner of that contest attracts they eye. In the opening round, Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus, the no.5 seed opposes Romania’s Ovidiu Ionescu, the no.12 seed, his nemesis at the Liebherr 2018 European Championships last September.

Equally fascinating, in the same half, England’s Liam Pitchford, the no.4 seed, faces Frenchman Simon Gauzy, the no.9 seed.

Meanwhile, in the women’s event, it is a very similar scenario to men. Romania’s Bernadette Szocs and Li Jie of the Netherlands, the no.4 seed, the respective gold and silver medallists one year ago, appear in the lower half of the draw.

Bernadette Szocs, the no.2 seed, starts her title defence against the Czech Republic’s Hana Matelova, the no.12 seed. Li Jie, the no.4 seed opposes Poland’s Natalia Partyka, the no.15 seed.

Meanwhile, in the opposite half of draw, Sofia Polcanova, the top seed, starts her quest for honours by confronting the host nation’s Rachel Moret, the no.16 seed; Romania’s Elizabeta Samara, the no.3 seed, faces Russia’s Polina Mikhailova, the no.11 seed. Notably for the winner of the latter engagement, Poland’s Li Qian, gold medallist at the Liebherr 2018 European Championships, is potential last eight opponent. In the opening round, the no.9 seed, she faces Germany’s Petrissa Solja, the no.5 seed.

The first round and quarter-finals of both the men’s and women’s events will be conducted on the first day of play.

Europe Top 16 Timo Boll Dimitrij Ovtcharov Bernadette Szocs Li Jie

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Day 2 - China Construction Bank 2019 ITTF-Europe Top 16 Cup