by Ian Marshall, Editor
Successful on the global stage, Falck has yet to leave his mark on the continental event – in both 2016 in Budapest and 2018 in Alicante, the most recent editions, the Swede departed in the early stages.
The record is very different to the next in line, Germany’s Dimitrij Ovtcharov and Timo Boll. The winner in 2013 in Schwechat and two years later in Ekaterinburg, Dimitrij Ovtcharov, the no.2 seed, is seeking his third European Championships men’s singles title; Timo Boll who won for the first time in 2002 in Zagreb is in search an unprecedented eighth!
“The past year has been difficult for me due to my back problems. This year it is getting better every week. I cannot say that I am sure that I will defend the title. But I am in such form that anything is possible. I haven’t played in tournaments for quite a long time, so I have to rediscover my routine a bit. I would say that I am not so much nervous as I am excited about this competition. I’m glad to be in the game and I enjoy the sport.” Timo Boll
A strong German presence is further exemplified by the fact Patrick Franziska occupies the no.4 seeded spot. Three years ago in Alicante, he reached the penultimate coming mightily close to ending the aspirations of Timo Boll; he led by three games to one, before losing three in a row to experience defeat.
Completing top eight names
Immediately following Patrick Franziska is Frenchman Simon Gauzy, the runner up in 2016 beaten by colleague Emmanuel Lebesson in the final. In Warsaw, Lebesson occupies the no.14 seeded spot.
Austria’s Robert Gardos, Portugal’s Marcos Freitas and Slovenia’s Darko Jorgic complete the top eight men’s singles names.
Gardos advanced to the quarter-finals in 2016, as did Freitas, a finish he repeated in Alicante. Notably, since the most recent European Championships, Gardos finished in third place at the CCB 2020 Europe Top 16 Cup on Montreux – Darko Jorgic finished one step higher, losing to Timo Boll in the title decider.
Somewhat of an outsider in the men’s singles, in the men’s doubles, even though listed in the no.5 spot, partnering compatriot Daniel Habeshon, Gardos is very much a title contender. The pair secured the European crown in both 2012 in Herning and in 2018 in Alicante.
Contenders for honours but as in the men’s singles, Germany is very much the dominant force. Benedikt Duda and Qiu Dang, runners up on the 2019 ITTF World Tour in both Germany and Japan, occupy the top-seeded position ahead of Timo Boll and Patrick Franziska.
No doubt an eye on the men’s team event at the forthcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, Timo Boll and Patrick Franziska form a proven partnership. They have three ITTF World Tour men’s doubles titles to their name; in 2013 and 2015 they succeeded on home soil, in 2019 in China.
Moreover, Boll is in search of no less than his fifth European Championships men’s doubles title. In 2002 in Zagreb, he partnered Zoltan Fejer-Konnerth to gold, before commencing in 2007 in Belgrade securing the title on three consecutive occasions in harness with Christian Süss.
Hungary’s Adam Szudi and Nandor Ecseki, runners up on the ITTF World Tour in 2015 in Belgium, occupy the no.3 seeded position ahead of Belgium’s Martin Allegro and Florent Lambiet, the silver medallists at the ITTF Challenge Series tournament in 2020 in Oman.
Meanwhile, the combination of Poland’s Jakub Dyjas and Belgium’s Cédric Nuytinck, semi-finalists on the 2020 ITTF World Tour in both Hungary and Germany, claim the no.6 spot, one place ahead of Sweden’s Mattias Falck and Kristian Karlsson, beaten by Robert Gardos and Daniel Habesohn in the 2012 European final.
Portugal’s Tiago Apolonia and João Monteiro hold the no.8 spot; in 2019 they reached the penultimate round at the ITTF World Tour Hungarian Open.
The men’s doubles is scheduled to start on Wednesday 23rd June.