10 Feb 2020

It was an important weekend for Timo Boll, Petrissa Solja, Hugo Calderano and Adriana Diaz.

by James Francis

Boll re-writes the record books

Germany’s Timo Boll won the men’s title at the China Construction Bank 2020 ITTF-Europe Top 16 in Montreux, Switzerland, on Sunday 9th February and thus emerged the champion for the seventh time. He now equals the record of Sweden’s now retired Jan-Ove Waldner who succeeded on seven occasions between 1984 in Bratislava and 1996 in Charleroi. The win came soon after compatriot Petrissa Solja had retained her women’s crown.

Impressive from start to finish; on the opening day (Saturday 8th February), Timo Boll, the no.3 seed, accounted for Sweden’s Kristian Karlsson, the no.9 seed (8-11, 11-9, 11-9, 11-4, 12-10), before overcoming England’s Liam Pitchford, the no.5 seed (11-4, 11-7, 11-8, 11-7), to reserve his place in the penultimate round.

Boll, now 38 years of age, overcame Austria’s Robert Gardos, the no.12 seed (12-10, 11-8, 7-11, 11-6, 11-5), before prevailing against Slovenia’s Darko Jorgic, the no.14 seed (8-11, 12-10, 11-5, 11-7, 11-9) to claim the top prize.

“It took time to adjust to the speed and length of his play, I needed time to find the rhythm for his service game, Darko is a very strong opponent. He does not take many risks, his shots are very powerful. It was a very close match and I could not make a mistake on easy points.” – Timo Boll

Gardos defeated Croatia’s Tomislav Pucar, the no.11 seed (9-11, 11-9, 11-9, 2-11, 8-11, 11-4, 11-9) to secure third place and his first ever podium finish in the tournament.

Another year, another final fightback for Solja

It was double joy for Germany, as just before Boll’s triumph Petrissa Solja sealed the women’s singles title one year after winning her first title, the epic seven-game comeback victory over Romania’s Bernadette Szocs, and once again it would prove to be another dramatic finale for the 25-year-old.

Solja. the no.2 seed, beat Poland’s Natalia Partyka, the no.13 seed (11-7, 11-4, 11-8, 11-6) in the opening round, prior to overcoming Romania’s Elizabeta Samara, the no.5 seed (11-9, 11-6, 13-11, 9-11, 9-11, 11-9) to reserve her semi-final place. The good form continued. She accounted for Ukraine’s Margaryta Pesotska, the no.7 seed (11-3, 10-12, 11-6, 16-14, 11-7), before recovering from a two games to nil deficit against Britt Eerland of the Netherlands, the no.10 seed (8-11, 6-11, 11-9, 11-5, 11-8, 11-7) to retain the crown.

“It started similar last year, I was 0-2 down and hoping that history would not repeat itself with me being 0-3 down like last year. It was all about the service game at the beginning. I needed time to adjust to her spins. I did not expect such heavy spin, so I missed a lot of her returns. She put me under pressure with good, fast, attacking forehand play and heavy top spin.” – Petrissa Solja

With a silver medal to her name, Eerland was very much a player in form in Montreux; at the semi-final stage she had beaten Austria’s Sofia Polcanova, the top seed (11-6, 11-7, 6-11, 11-8, 11-9).

For Polcanova, there would be a place on the podium for a second year running, as she overcame Pesotska in the bronze medal match (8-11, 9-11, 11-7, 11-6, 11-8, 11-5).

Calderano once again crowned king of his continent

Staged in the same venue as one year ago, the Coliseo Mario “Quijote” Morales in the Puerto Rican city of Guaynabo, on Sunday 9th February, Brazil’s Hugo Calderano and the host nation’s Adriana Diaz retained their respective men’s and women’s titles at the Universal 2020 ITTF-Pan America Cup. Thus places in the Liebherr Men’s World Cup and the Women’s World Cup, both to be held later in the year in October, were reserved.

Following a five games semi-final success against Paraguay’s Marcelo Aguirre, the no.4 seed (11-9, 11-9, 8-11, 11-5, 11-6), the top ranked Calderano secured the title at the final expense of compatriot Gustavo Tsuboi, the no.3 seed (11-3, 11-5, 11-13, 11-3, 11-6).

Thus for the third consecutive year the 23 year old clinched the title, while for Tsuboi, who had ousted Kanak Jha of the United States, the no.2 seed, at the semi-final stage (11-9, 11-6, 10-12, 4-11, 11-4, 11-4, 3-11, 11-9), the record of securing a podium finish in every edition since the tournament was first held in 2017 in San José, Costa Rica, was maintained. On that occasion he emerged the winner, in 2018 in Asuncion, he was the runner up, last year when the tournament was also held in Guaynabo, he was the bronze medallist.

Disappointment for last year’s runner up, Jha secured consolation with victory over Aguirre (11-4, 11-6, 11-6, 11-4) to gain the bronze medal.

Earlier en route to the final, on the opening two days of action, Calderano had beaten Canada’s Jeremy Hazin, the no.10 seed (8-11, 11-3, 5-11, 11-7, 11-0, 11-8), prior to recording a quarter-final success against Argentina’s Horacio Cifuentes, the no.5 seed (5-11, 11-5, 11-3, 11-7, 11-7) to secure his place in the final day of play.

“It was a difficult event but I played better and better as the tournament advanced, so I am glad about the final outcome. It’s never easy to play against a teammate, we know very well each other’s services and returns and that makes it more difficult. It’s great to feel this warmth from the public, it gives me a lot of energy. I live in Germany and it feels good when I receive this kind of support for table tennis here in America.” – Hugo Calderano

Diaz pleases Puerto Rico

Almost 4,000 adoring spectators watched Puerto Rican star Adriana Diaz clinch women’s singles gold in Guaynabo. In a final of the very highest quality, full of dramatic counter top spin exchanges, top seed Diaz emerged successful in six games against Lily Zhang of the United States, the no.2 seed (11-4, 11-2, 12-10, 7-11, 9-11, 11-8).

Both finalists had impressed in the penultimate round; Diaz accounted for USA’s Wu Yue, the no.3 seed (5-11, 11-5, 8-11, 11-5, 11-7, 12-10), as Lily Zhang ended the hopes of Canada’s Zhang Mo, the no.4 seed (12-10, 11-5, 11-7, 11-9). In the bronze medal contest, Wu Yue overcame Zhang Mo (9-11, 11-6, 23-21, 11-13, 6-11, 13-11, 11-3).

Diaz’ successful journey began with a win over Brazil’s Jessica Yamada, the no.11 seed (11-5, 11-8, 11-9, 11-8) and Mexico’s Yadira Silva, the no.8 seed (11-8, 12-10, 11-9, 13-11) to seal her place in Sunday’s semi-finals and, ultimately, the top prize.

“It’s a dream to win here again. The public was very supportive during the whole match that was very tight and I had to give my best. There were so many long rallies and I was realising that Lily (Zhang) was not going to surrender. I tried to stay positive and to remove any negative thinking from my mind, so I think that the mental part of my game was the most important. I am the happiest person in the world, there is nothing like playing in front of your public and feeling their support.” – Adriana Diaz

Qualified Players for Liebherr 2020 ITTF Men’s World Cup:

China Construction Bank 2020 Europe Top 16 Cup:
Timo BOLL (GER), Darko JORGIC (SLO), Robert GARDOS (AUT)

Universal 2020 Pan America Cup:

Qualified Players for 2020 ITTF Women’s World Cup:

China Construction Bank 2020 Europe Top 16 Cup:

Universal 2020 Pan America Cup:
Adriana DIAZ (PUR), Lily ZHANG (USA)

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Press Releases 2020 Pan America Cup 2020 ITTF Europe Top 16 Timo Boll Petrissa Solja