by Simon Daish
Meeting at the 2018 European Championships in Alicante, Margaryta Pesotska prevented Sofia Polcanova from a spot in the final on that occasion. Fast forward three years and this time the no.7 seed from Ukraine has beaten Polcanova to the semi-finals (11-4, 15-17, 11-7, 11-8, 15-13), meaning the 26-year-old will have to wait a little while longer in her pursuit of a first continental singles gold.
Germany’s Shan Xiaona awaits Pesotska on the final day of play after the ninth-seeded penhold grip specialist recovered from two games down to bring Linda Bergström’s impressive run to a halt (10-12, 9-11, 11-8, 11-4, 11-8, 11-8).
Petrissa Solja will also represent Germany in the other half of the semi-final draw. The highest-seeded player remaining in contention following Polcanova’s departure, second seed Solja could easily have suffered the same fate as the Austrian with Portuguese opponent Fu Yu just falling short (11-6, 13-11, 11-2, 8-11, 13-15, 2-11, 11-4). 2015 European champion Elizabeta Samara is the next player standing in Solja’s path following the Romanian’s 4-2 win over Sabine Winter (7-11, 11-7, 13-11, 8-11, 11-7, 11-4).
“We played so many times against each other and every time I lost in the decisive game. This time I won and I am grateful for the support I received from the whole team. They were here, watching the match and they gave me power especially when I needed it the most in the last game. I also previously played five times in the quarters and now finally I have made it to the semis!” Petrissa Solja
Champion in 2013 and 2015, Germany’s Dimitrij Ovtcharov survived a major scare in his men’s singles quarter-final affair on day five in Warsaw. Leading 3-0, the second seed looked set for a comfortable win at the halfway point of his meeting with no.35 seed Lubomir Jancarik. However, the Czech qualifier pulled off a miraculous turnaround, claiming three games on the bounce to force a decider. Ovtcharov did well to steady the ship in game seven and will be pleased to see his name through to the last four (11-7, 11-7, 11-9, 9-11, 7-11, 9-11, 11-8).
Seeded five positions below Ovtcharov, Portugal’s Marcos Freitas, men’s singles runner-up in 2015, awaits the German in the semi-finals. Freitas secured his passage with victory over Romania’s Ovidiu Ionescu, defeating the 2018 silver medallist across five games (5-11, 11-5, 11-5, 11-9, 11-6).
“We played already a few times and it always was a close game, but throughout the Championships I reached good shape and I am happy with my performance. I am looking forward to tomorrow’s match.” Marcos Freitas
The two remaining fixtures also panned out according to seeding with Sweden’s Mattias Falck, top seed, and Germany’s Timo Boll, third seed, accounting for Swedish opposition in Jon Persson (11-2, 11-7, 12-10, 11-6) and Anton Källberg (12-10, 15-17, 11-8, 11-8, 16-14) respectively.
There was delight for Poland in the men’s doubles event with host nation representation set to feature on the final day programme. The news comes following Jakub Dyjas’ semi-final success alongside Belgium’s Cedric Nuytinck, after the mixed association pair combined to perfection to overcome Portuguese rivals Tiago Apolonia and João Monteiro (11-8, 11-6, 11-5).
A string of fine performances in the lead-up to the semi-finals, but the penultimate round is where the Hungarian pair of Adam Szudi and Nandor Ecseki would encounter defeat. The no.3 seeds fell to the in-form Russian duo of Levs Katsman and Maksim Grebnev (9-11, 11-9, 7-11, 11-7, 11-7), who are now just one win away from total euphoria.
The women’s doubles crown is staying with Germany as both of the country’s partnerships involved in semi-final action emerged successful.
Winner three years ago in Alicante and mixed doubles champion this time out in Warsaw, Nina Mittelham will appear in yet another final after she and Sabine Winter, together forming the no.15 seeded pair, responded from an early deficit to beat the no.10 seeds from Ukraine, Ganna Gaponova and Tetyana Bilenko (10-12, 11-6, 11-7, 11-8).
French hopes were dashed over in the other semi-final as third seeds Stéphanie Loeuillette and Yuan Jia Nan lost out to Petrissa Solja and Shan Xiaona, seeded 16th, with the German combination also fighting back from behind on their way to victory (7-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-6).
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/