by Simon Daish
Slovakia’s Tatiana Kukulkova was looking to bounce back from her opening defeat to Hungary’s Leila Imre but in the end, there was to be no consolation for the no.39 seed as Turkey’s Ece Harac, seeded 67th, showed little sympathy (11-5, 11-8, 11-8). A second defeat for Kukulkova leaves her third in the group and out of the running.
The news was just as bleak for the player seeded four positions above Kukulkova, as Maria Yovkova also suffered back-to-back losses with the Bulgarian emerging second-best in her meeting with French teenager Prithika Pavade (11-5, 7-11, 11-9, 11-8). The result means Yovkova is condemned to third position in Group 3, whilst top spot is reserved for one of two teenagers as Pavade, 16, takes on Wales’ Anna Hursey, 15, for the honour!
There was delight for the host nation as Poland’s Katarzyna Grzybowska-Franc made it two wins from two matches in Group 19. In the second session, no.51 seed Grzybowska-Franc fought back from behind to see off Hungary’s Bernadett Balint (8-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-3) and is confident that she will maintain her undefeated record when she returns to the table on Wednesday morning.
“After two games, I have two wins. It makes me happy, because after the maternity break I am returning to competition at the highest level… I defend the bronze medal from three years ago, but the truth is that I have already forgotten about that success… There is a third match ahead of me in the qualifying group, I believe that I will win it and advance to the main tournament.” Katarzyna Grzybowska-Franc
Pulling off one of the shocks of the session in the men’s singles competition was Russia’s Lev Katsman. The no.73 seeded entry was simply magnificent at the table, taking down the top-seeded player in Group 8, Slovenia’s Deni Kozul, seeded 40th, in straight games (11-9, 11-9, 11-8).
“It was a good match from me, I played well. I’m happy I won, I will try to fight in my next match to go to the next round.” Lev Katsman
Up-and-coming Swedish star Truls Moregard, no.38 seed, is through after confirming top spot in Group 6. The 19-year-old accounted for Bulgaria’s Teodor Alexandrov in his second fixture of the day (11-8, 11-7, 11-9), following up on his earlier success against Russia’s Maksim Grebnev.
Elsewhere, Hunor Szocs was forced right down to the wire for the second match in a row with the no.47 seed from Romania backing up his opening 3-2 win over Estonia’s Vallot Vainula with another narrow victory against Luxembourg’s Luka Mladenovic (11-8, 6-11, 11-5, 8-11, 11-7). Turkey’s Abdullah Yigenler also enjoyed a strong session, holding off a late comeback charge from Group 18 favourite Yaroslav Zhmudenko of Ukraine (11-9, 11-8, 6-11, 7-11, 11-7).
For more information regarding the Liebherr 2020 ITTF European Championships visit the official tournament website at https://www.ettu.org/en/events/ittf-european-individual-championships-/general-information/