08 Feb 2020

Runners up one year ago and former champions, at the CCB 2020 Europe Top 16 in Montreux, both Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus and Romania’s Bernadette Szocs departed proceedings at the first hurdle on the morning of Saturday 8th February.

Later as the quarter-finals concluded owing a fever, a 39.5 degrees temperature, Dimitrij Ovtcharov, the no.2 seed and defending champion, was forced to withdraw when due to face Croatia’s Tomislav Pucar, the no.13 seed.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

In the men’s event, Vladimir Samsonov, the no.6 seed, was beaten by Slovenia’s Darko Jorgic, the no.14 seed (8-11, 11-4, 11-9, 11-7, 12-10); soon after Bernadette Szocs, the women’s no.3 seed, lost to Britt Eerland of the Netherlands, the no.10 seed (9-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-8, 11-7).

Defeat and for both a continuation of a dismal start to the year; on the international scene Bernadette Szocs has won just one match to date; for Vladimir Samsonov, the cupboard is bare.

Gondomar and Magdeburg

At the 2020 ITTF World Team tournament last month in Gondomar, in a 3-0 success against Italy, Bernadette Szocs beat Deborah Vivarelli (11-6, 11-8, 11-3); facing India in 3-2 win that secured a place in the Tokyo Olympic Games, she lost to both Manika Batra (7-11, 12-10, 11-9, 11-7) and to Sutirtha Mukherjee (8-11, 11-7, 11-9, 3-11, 11-4).

“My service game was very good and I had to use all my mental strength to beat her. Bernadette is the kind of player who never gives up. Even when you are oin the lead, you are far from safe. She does not give any gifts; you have to work hard for each point. In addition, she is very dangerous in mind games. I had to stay calm and to focus on my game, otherwise, I would have been on her ground and lose.” Britt Eerland

Fast forward to the following week in Magdeburg at the 2020 ITTF World Tour Platinum German Open, in her opening match in the preliminary stage she experienced defeat at the hands of Stéphanie Loueillette of France (8-11, 6-11, 13-11, 11-2, 6-11, 11-9, 11-8).

Bernadette Szocs nearest camera found Britt Eerland in a rich vein of form (Photo Rémy Gros)


Horror movie

Similarly, it has been a horror movie for Vladimir Samsonov. In a 3-0 defeat for Belarus against Hungary at the ITTF World Team Tournament he was beaten by Bence Majoros (11-9, 11-8, 8-11, 6-11, 11-3); in Magdeburg, like Bernadette Szocs, in his open preliminary match, he was suffered against China’s Xu Chenhao (11-9, 11-8, 8-11, 6-11, 11-3).

Conversely for Darko Jorgic it has been quite the opposite start to the year. He remained unbeaten throughout the 2020 ITTF World Team Tournament guiding Slovenia to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, before progressing safely through the qualification stage in Magdeburg to reserve a first round place. Japan’s Jun Mizutani ended adventures.

“I have had an incredible few weeks; for the first time I have qualified for the Olympics. For the first time I am playing at Top 16. It is just a great period for me. Against Samsonov it was crucial to stay strong mentally. You have to play each ball, stay focused more than anything.”

Oustanding start to year for Darko Jorgic (Photo Rémy Gros)


Notably since they first met in 2009 at the Malta Junior and Cadet Open, Britt Eerland has now won eight of the ten meetings against Bernadette Szocs; for Vladimir Samsonov and Darko Jorgic it was their first engagement in a world ranking event.

2020 ITTF Europe Top 16 Vladimir Samsonov Bernadette Szocs Darko Jorgic Britt Eerland

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Day 2 - 2020 ITTF Europe Top 16 Cup