by Simon Daish
Seeded second for the event, Emmanuel Lebesson and Yuan Jia Nan looked to be heading for the exit after falling two games behind in their meeting with Polish no.8 seeds Jakub Dyjas and Natalia Partyka. However, the French duo refused to give up the fight and were rewarded for their effort as they successfully turned the match on its head in dramatic style (8-11, 8-11, 11-2, 11-8, 11-6).
Lebesson and Yuan weren’t the only French pair to make the headlines as Simon Gauzy and Prithika Pavade, seeded 19th, outclassed German no.3 seeds Patrick Franziska and Petrissa Solja with a commanding straight games victory (11-9, 12-10, 12-10).
The top-seeded pair in the women’s doubles category came mightily close to a shock Round of 32 exit in Warsaw with Slovakia’s Barbora Balazova and Czech Republic’s Hana Matelova requiring the full five-game distance against Belarusian opponents Daria Trigolos and Katsiaryna Baravok. Trailing by a two-game deficit, Balazova and Matelova picked up the pace, winning three games in a row to complete a much-needed comeback (5-11, 10-12, 11-2, 11-7, 11-8).
A narrow victory but a win nonetheless for the top seeds, however, the same couldn’t be said for the second seeds from Poland as Natalia Partyka and Natalia Bajor more than met their match. The local favourites will consider themselves slightly unfortunate considering the tight nature of the fixture, losing out to the Netherlands’ Britt Eerland and Hungary’s Georgina Pota, seeded 19th, by no more than two points in each game (12-10, 9-11, 11-9, 11-9).
Nine of the top ten seeded entries competing in the men’s doubles draw did enough to earn their passage to the Round of 16, but the identity of the one pair to miss out will catch many by surprise. Considered amongst the favourites, Germany’s Timo Boll and Patrick Franziska instead find themselves out at the first hurdle after the second seeds fell short in a gruelling head-to-head with Slovenia’s Darko Jorgic and Croatia’s Tomislav Pucar, no.32 seeds (12-10, 7-11, 11-4, 9-11, 13-11).
“It was a nice victory for us, we won against Boll and Franziska in a tough match. We were fighting, we were up 2:1 and it was just fight, fight, fight! We saved two match balls and we’re really happy to qualify for the next round.” Darko Jorgic
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/