Favorites suffered on their return to the table
POTA, YU Fu and SHEN Yanfei faced early exit
Top seeded HAN Ying of Germany maintained her patience to overcome the defensive skills of Polina MIKHAILOVA of Russia on her way to the Round of 16 in the Women’s Singles Event at the European Games in Baku.
“I was very nervous. Usually I play very good against defense, but today I was not in the right shape of mind. I did not fell well so I did not want to take a big risk. I waited for Polina to attack first and to make mistake,” explained HAN.
The tactics paid off. It was a close match (11:9, 11:4, 11:8, 12:10), but it ended in favor of newly crowned team’s champion.
“During the Team’s Event I had not opportunity to play against the players with the defensive style of play and there are a lot of girls with that style in my part of the draw. I am happy I have an opportunity to play against one, in such early stage of the tournament, to prepare for future possible encounters with better ranked defenders,” explained HAN.
Elizabeta SAMARA of Romania overcame Matilda EKHOLM of Sweden to heal the wound from the team’s Event. In the first round Sweden beat Romania; EKHOLM overcame SAMARA in straight games then.
“For past few days only what I was thinking of was this match. After the team’s event I did not practice, just returning the service. I had to win this one. It was difficult mental match. Now, when it is over I want to enjoy the game and the rest of the tournament,” said SAMARA.
Sofia POLCANOVA of Austria overcame Gabriela FEHER of Serbia to progress to the Round of 16. She did it in very impressive style in four straight games.
“She could not find the answer to my service; in addition I kept changing the pace of the game by sending her short and then deep balls. Most of all I was more self-confident,” said POLCANOVA.
NI Xia LIan of Luxembourg created a biggest upset of the day by beating the seed no. four Georgina POTA of Hungary in straight games (11:8, 11:6, 11:9, 11:5). The list continues with the early departure of of 7th seed YU Fu of Portugal. Eva ODOROVA of Slovakia was in charge for that one.
“I started the match in very confident mood, won the opening game and stick to the tactics even when YU managed to level the game. In the proceedings I was always in comfortable lead and I was much better in longer rallies,” explained ODOROVA.
Both players are engaged in French Pro A and for ODOROVA this will be 15th International season. For 12 years she was playing for C.P. Lyssois Lille Métropole, but now she moved to Poitiers. Two years she spent in Poland.
Renata STRBIKOVA of Czech Republic also succeeded against better-ranked player. Czech player beat SHEN Yanfei of Spain seeded no. 9 (14:12, 10:12, 6:11, 12:10, 20:18, 16:14).
“I had to rose up my game to be able to beat her. She is good in so many ways, starting for service. She made you running all the time. It is not like table tennis running, you have to put jogging shoes when you playing against SHEN. She just plays deep balls and do not move from the table,” explains STRIBIKOVA.
The turning point of the match was a little stroke of luck for Renata. It was 1:2 in games and 5:9 in points when she hit three “edges” in the row.
“I saw it like a sign. I realize I can play at her level and completely new game started. From 2:2 we played new match and this one I played with more confidence.”
The duel that is scheduled for tomorrow, against ODOROVA could be called epic.
“First time we have played against each other at the European junior Championships in 1997. Since then, I cannot remember how many times we meet each other and who have better record. However, never mind the statistic, I am looking forward that duel. It is going to be great,” said STRBIKOVA.
Petrisa SOLJA of Germany easily found the way to the third round. She overcame Anamarija ERDELJI of Serbia in six games.
“I felt whole time in complete control. Even when ERDELJI put the pressure on me,” explained SOLJA.