19 Sep 2021

Frenchman Emmanuel Lebesson and Portugal’s Fu Yu emerged the most unexpected names to reach the semi-final stage of the men’s and women’s events at the Pomegranate 2021 Europe Top 12 Cup in Thessaloniki on Saturday 18th September.

However, they were not alone in upsetting the order of merit.

by Ian Marshall

Emmanuel Lebesson, the no.13 seed, after recording a first round win against Austria’s Robert Gardos, the no.7 seed (11-13, 11-5, 8-11, 11-7, 11-7, 14-12), caused a major quarter-final upset by overcoming England’s Liam Pitchford, the no.2 seed (11-5, 11-7, 10-12, 11-5, 10-12, 12-10).

In the penultimate round, Emmanuel Lebesson faces Portugal’s Marcos Freitas, the no.5 seed; in the opposite half of the draw, Sweden’s Mattias Falck, the top seed, opposes Germany’s Patrick Franziska, the no.3 seed.


En route to the last four, Mattias Falck accounted for Slovakia’s Wang Yang, the no.11 seed (11-7, 17-15, 14-12, 12-10), prior to ousting Slovenia’s Darko Jorgic, the no.6 seed (11-8, 11-5, 5-11, 12-10, 11-5).

Imposing from Mattias Falck, for Patrick Franziska it was monumental. In the opening round he overcame Austria’s Daniel Habesohn, the no.14 seed, in a contest decided by a quite stupendous seventh game (11-8, 5-11, 7-11, 11-7, 4-11, 11-9, 19-17)!

Success against Daniel Habesohn, at the quarter-final stage it was less exacting in opposition to colleague, Ruwen Filus, the no.12 seed; Patrick Franziska prevailed in five games (9-11, 11-7, 11-7, 11-6, 11-5).

Testing times for Patrick Franziska, it was little different for Marcos Freitas, the no.5 seed.

He recorded an opening round win against Denmark’s Jonathan Groth, the no.9 seed (11-13, 11-5, 8-11, 11-7, 11-7, 14-12), prior to ousting Frenchman, Simon Gauzy, the no.4 seed (12-10, 10-12, 13-11, 10-12, 11-9, 8-11, 11-3).

Bygone era

Meanwhile, in the women’s event, at the semi-final stage Fu Yu confronts Romania’s Bernadette Szocs, Germany’s Nina Mittelham opposes the Czech Republic’s Hana Matelova.

A battle of the penholders from a bygone era, in the opening round Fu Yu, the no.11 seed, beat Luxembourg’s Ni Xialian, the no.6 seed (11-7, 11-8, 9-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-9), before overcoming Hungary’s Dora Madarasz, the no.14 seed (11-4, 11-8, 11-8, 14-12).

Similarly, Nina Mittelham, the no.5 seed and Hana Matelova, the no.9 seed, upset the order of merit.

After accounting for Slovakia’s Barbora Balazova, the no.10 seed, Nina Mittelham ended the hopes of Austria’s Sofia Polcanova, the top seed (11-3, 11-7, 8-11, 13-11, 11-8).

Likewise, Hana Matelova overcame Romania’s Elizabeta Samara, the no.4 seed (11-8, 11-8, 11-6, 12-14, 11-8), prior to posting a quarter-final win against Hungary’s Dora Madarasz, the no.14 seed (11-4, 11-8, 11-8, 14-12).


Surprise semi-finalists but there was one as anticipated.

Bernadette Szocs, the no.2 seed, beat Russia’s Yana Noskova, the no.12 seed (11-9, 13-11, 11-13, 11-6, 11-7) followed by Ukraine’s Ganna Gaponova (11-4, 13-11, 11-2, 4-11, 11-9) to reach the last four.

Play concludes in Thessaloniki on Sunday 19th September.

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