by Ian Marshall, Editor
Major contenders for honours, Dimitrij Ovtcharov, Timo Boll and Patrick Franziska all enjoyed opening round men’s singles success, as in the counterpart women’s singles did Han Ying and Petrissa Solja.
However, in the men’s doubles Timo Boll and Patrick Franziska, the no.2 seeds and winners of three ITTF World Tour titles as a pair, experienced an opening round defeat at the hands of the very much untried combination of Slovenia’s Darko Jorgic and Croatia’s Tomislav Pucar (12-10, 7-11, 11-4, 9-11, 13-11).
Nevertheless, German hopes are still alive. Benedikt Duda and Qiu Dang, the top seeds, progressed as did Hungary’s Nandor Ecseki and Adam Szudi, the no.3 seeds, alongside Belgium’s Martin Allegro and Florent Lambiet, the no.4 seeds.
Somewhat similarly, in the mixed doubles Patrick Franziska and Petrissa Solja, the no.3 seeds, suffered a quarter-final reverse; they were beaten by French qualifiers Simon Gauzy and Prithika Pavade (11-9, 12-10, 12-10).
At the semi-final stage Simon Gauzy and Prithika Pavade meet Slovakia’s Lubomir Pistej and Barbora Balazova, the top seeds. In the adjacent half of the draw, also from France, Emmanuel Lebesson and Yuan Jia Nan, the no.2 seeds, confront Germany’s Qiu Dang and Nina Mittelham, the no.11 seeds.
Not the best of news for Germany with the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on the horizon, winners at the 2019 European Games, Patrick Franziska and Petrissa Solja head the list of qualifiers, in the men’s team event Timo Boll and Patrick Franziska are surely the preferred doubles option.
Biggest name to fall
Progress for Nina Mittelham in the mixed doubles, but not in the women’s singles. The biggest name to fall in the opening round, the no.8 seed was beaten in a full distance seven games contest by Turkey’s Sibel Altinkaya (3-11, 11-7, 8-11, 12-10, 3-11, 11-5, 13-11).
Conversely, alongside Petrissa Solja, the no.2 seed, and Han Ying, the no.3 seed, there were no such problems; similarly, Austria’s Sofia Polcanova, the top seed, negotiated the first hurdle as did Romania’s Bernadette Szocs, the no.4 seed.
Host nation defeat
One major women’s singles upset, in the opening round of the women’s doubles, the number was doubled.
The host nation’s Natalia Bajor and Natalia Partyka, the no.2 seeds, lost to Britt Eerland of the Netherlands and Hungary’s Georgina Pota (12-10, 9-11, 11-9, 11-9).
Likewise, Serbia’s Isabela Lupulesku and Sabina Surjan, the no.4 seeds, departed at the hands of the Pauline Chasselin and Prithika Pavade (7-11, 11-9, 11-9, 11-7) on what was a good day for France; additionally, Stéphanie Loeuillette and Yuan Jia Nan of France, the no.3 seeds, progressed.
Disappointment for notable pairs, it was almost the same for Slovakia’s Barbora Balazova and the Czech Republic’s Hana Matelova, the top seeds; they were required to recover from a two games to nil deficit against Katsiaryna Baravok and Daria Trigiolos of Belarus (5-11, 10-12, 11-2, 11-7, 11-8).
Top seed tested
Meanwhile, in the opening round of the men’s singles, alongside Dimitrij Ovtcharov, Timo Boll and Patrick Franziska, the players who complete the top four places, there was success for Sweden’s Mattias Falck, the name at the head of the list.
Progress to round two but there were nervous moments. Falck needed the full seven games to beat Pavel Platonov of Belarus, only emerging successful by the very narrowest of margins (6-11, 9-11, 11-8, 11-6, 6-11, 11-2, 11-9).
Proceedings in the mixed doubles will be played to a conclusion on Friday 25th June; in all other events the second round will be enacted.
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/