by Ian Marshall, Editor
Dimitrij Ovtcharov, the no.2 seed, faces Croatia’s Tomislav Pucar, the no.11 seed, the player against whom he suffered in the third round at the Liebherr 2019 World Championships in Budapest.
He is in the same quarter of the draw as Portugal’s Marcos Freitas, the no.7 seed and the winner in 2014 in Lausanne on the last occasion the tournament was the Top 12 as opposed to the Top 16. In the opening round he faces Austria’s Daniel Habesohn, the no.10 seed and one year ago a somewhat surprise semi-finalist.
In the same half of the draw, Frenchman, Simon Gauzy, the no.4 seed, confronts Slovakia’s Wang Yang, the player he beat in the fourth round of the men’s singles event at the Liebherr 2019 World Championships. Awaiting is the winner of the intriguing clash of the generations between Slovenia’s 21 year old Darko Jorgic, the no.14 seed and 43 years of age Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus, the no.6 seed.
Exacting opening round encounters; for the top seed, Sweden’s Mattias Falck, the opening round duel could not be more testing, he faces Frenchman Emmanuel Lebesson, the no.15 seed, a player who the Swede has never beaten on the international stage. Two meetings on the ITTF World Tour, in 2015 in China and 2016 in Kuala Lumpur, Emmanuel Lebesson prevailed.
Same half as six times winner
They are listed in the same quarter of the draw as Austria’s Robert Gardos, the no.12 seed and Denmark’s Jonathan Groth, the no.8 seed. Most pertinently they are in the same half of the draw as Timo Boll, the no.3 seed, the six times the tournament winner. In the opening round Timo Boll meets Sweden’s Kristian Karlsson, the no.9 seed; laying in wait is either England’s Liam Pitchford, the no.5 seed or Switzerland’s Lionel Weber, the no.16 seed.
Men’s Singles – Round One – Order of Play (seeded positions in brackets)
- 09.30 Simon Gauzy France (4) v Wang Yang Slovakia (13)
- 10.20 Darko Jorgic Slovenia (14) v Vladimir Samsonov Belarus (6)
- 11.10 Robert Gardos Austria (12) v Jonathan Groth Denmark (8)
- 12.00 Mattias Falck Sweden (1) v Emmanuel Lebesson France (15)
- 13.50 Kristian Karlsson Sweden (9) v Timo Boll Germany (3)
- 14.40 Liam Pitchford England (5) v Lionel Weber Switzerland (16)
- 15.30 Marcos Freitas Portugal (7) v Daniel Habesohn Austria (10)
- 16.20 Tomislav Pucar Croatia (11) v Dimitrij Ovtcharov Germany (2)
Meanwhile, for Petrissa Solja, the no.2 seed, it is a similar situation; likewise she confronts an adversary against whom she has never enjoyed success on the international stage. She faces Poland’s Natalia Partyka, the no.13 seed and runner up one year ago. Much water has flowed under the bridge since they last met but on the ITTF World Tour in 2008 in Poland and in 2010 in Qatar the verdict favoured Natalia Partyka.
Natalia Partyka and Petrissa Solja appear in the same quarter of the draw as Romania’s Elizabeta Samara, the no.5 seed and Russia’s Yana Noskova, the no.14 seed. In the same half appears the name of a further German player in the guise of Han Ying, the no.4 seed; she meets the Czech Republic’s Hana Matelova, the no.11 seed. Awaiting in the round of the last eight is either Ukraine’s Margaryta Pesotska, the no.7 seed or Hungary’s Dora Madarasz, the no.15 seed.
At the recent 2020 ITTF World Team Qualification Tournament in Gondomar, Dora Madarasz was in blistering form, guiding Hungary to an Olympic Games place. However, on their most recent meeting, the Liebherr 2019 European Team Championships in Nantes, the verdict went in favour of Margaryta Pesotska.
An exacting first round women’s singles encounter for the defending champion, it is the same for Romania’s Bernadette Szocs, the 2018 champion and runner up last year. The no.3 seed, she meets Britt Eerland of the Netherlands, the no.10 seed, a player against whom she does not have a good record. Britt Eerland has won seven of their nine encounters; the fact in favour of the Romanian is they were some time ago and Bernadette Szocs did win the most recent when they crossed swords in 2016 at the ITTF World Tour Swedish Open.
Bernadette Szocs and Britt Eerland appear in the same quarter of the draw as Russia’s Polina Mikhailova, the no.8 seed and Luxembourg’s Ni Xia Lian, the no.9 seed.
They are in the same half as Austria’s Sofia Polcanova, the top seed who, as last year in the opening round, confronts the host nation’s Rachel Moret, the no.16 seed. In the same half appear Sweden’s Matilda Ekholm, the no.6 seed and Slovakia’s Barbora Balazova, the no.12 seed.
Women’s Singles – Round One – Order of Play (seeded positions in brackets)
- 09.30 Dora Madarasz Hungary (15) v Margaryta Pesotska Ukraine (7)
- 10.20 Han Ying Germany (4) v Hana Matelova Czech Republic (11)
- 11.10 Polina Mikhailova Russia (8) v Ni Xia Lian Luxembourg (9)
- 12.00 Britt Eerland Netherlands (10) v Bernadette Szocs Romania (3)
- 13.50 Elizabeta Samara Romania (5) v Yana Noskova Russia (14)
- 14.40 Natalia Partyka Poland (13) v Petrissa Solja Germany (2)
- 15.30 Barbora Balazova Slovakia (12) v Matilda Ekholm Sweden (6)
- 16.20 Sofia Polcanova Austria (1) v Rachel Moret Switzerland (16)
The semi-finals, third place matches and finals will be conducted on Sunday 9th February.