by Simon Daish
The highest-seeded player to lose out was Germany’s Nina Mittelham with the no.8 seed experiencing defeat at the hands of Turkish no.49 seed Sibel Altinkaya in an end-to-end thriller (3-11, 11-7, 8-11, 12-10, 3-11, 11-5, 13-11).
“At the beginning, I struggled with her service game. I could not take control over the game and that is the only way you can beat Nina. When I managed to be better with my service game I put some pressure on her and won the match. It is a great win for me!” Sibel Altinkaya
Mittelham wasn’t the only shock departure in the Round of 64 as Hungary’s Georgina Pota also bid her farewells earlier than anticipated. The no.12 seed was on the receiving end of a crushing 4-0 defeat as Serbia’s Andrea Todorovic, seeded 36th, produced one of her finest performances to date to seal her ticket to the next stage (11-8, 11-7, 11-3, 11-9).
An exciting young prospect for Swedish table tennis, Christina Källberg once again demonstrated why she is turning heads, upstaging Portuguese no.15 seed Shao Jieni 4-2 (13-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-6, 8-11, 11-5) to book her place in the last 32.
“The key task was to keep the pressure on Shao. I tried to control her game with the backhand and I used my service game as my main weapon. I had a lot of variations on my service and it opened the space to attack and to put pressure on her. At the end, I was nervous and felt shaky but I managed to bring the match to an end in my favour.” Christina Källberg
Another talent, this time from Romania, Adina Diaconu, no.46 seed, also impressed as she saw off the host nation’s Natalia Partyka (11-8, 11-7, 11-8, 8-11, 11-8). Diaconu’s fellow Romanian, Bernadette Szocs also moves through with no.4 seed proving too strong for Kornelija Riliskyte of Lithuania (11-6, 11-5, 11-3, 11-9).
Elsewhere, Austria’s Sofia Polcanova is safely through after the Austrian competitor breezed past Portuguese qualifier Leila Oliveira in straight games (11-3, 11-3, 11-9, 12-10), while Germany’s Petrissa Solja, seeded second, accounted for Hungary’s Bernadett Balint (11-4, 11-8, 11-4, 11-4).
Success for one Solja but disappointment for Petrissa’s sister Amelie, who failed to capitalise on a significant lead as Serbia’s Sabina Surjan pulled off an awe-inspiring recovery (7-11, 4-11, 11-6, 5-11, 14-12, 11-9, 11-8). Another seven-game thriller unfolded between Ukraine’s Ganna Gaponova and Croatia’s Mateja Jeger with the latter player coming out on top (11-5, 10-12, 8-11, 11-3, 11-9, 11-13, 11-6) to send the no.16 seed packing.
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/