Paul DRINKHALL in the semis of the European GamesPhoto: Table Tennis England
OVTCHAROV, SAMSONOV and KOU LEI joins him
In Men’s Singles Event at the first European Games in Baku, top seeded Dimitrij OVTCHAROV of Germany booked his place in the semi final, but still, the tournament was not saved of surprises.
OVTCHAROV recorded two straight games victories today; he beat Adrien MATTENET of France before he accounted for Andrej GACINA of Croatia.
“Against GACINA I had my best performance in Baku, especially the third game, that I won at 12:10. I moved very well. I must say the doctors did a great job. I only feel the pain when I put my trousers, but I do not have to do that in the match, so everything is fine,” explained OVTCHAROV laughing.
Tomorrow he will meet Paul DRINKHALL of England. DRINKHALL emerged as a surprise winner after the duel against Marcos FREITAS of Portugal, no. 4 seed.
“It is going to be very difficult match. Last time he beat me at the Russian Open. He is inconsistent; Paul plays two tournaments well, then in four next lose in first round…however through out this tournament he showed impressive performance and that is something that could not be changed for a day,” said OVTCHAROV.
Before FREITAS, DRINKAHALL beat Bojan TOKIC, but after Portugal won gold in Team’s Event victory over world’s no. 10 is big upset.
"I beat him last time we played in the Russian Open quarterfinals. Some might say that he is a better player than I am, but I would disagree. However, what Portugal are doing for the game is great. They won the European championship on home soil last year beating Germany, and got the gold here. It is great for table tennis that they are the new kids on the block, so to speak."
LIAM PICHFORD also had a chance to book his place in semis, but he lost against KOU Lei.
“The level at European Games is like the European championships. It's been a great 12 months for us and I think it's only a matter of time before we really take off and do something."
Vladimir SAMSONOV of Belarus overcame Simon GAUZY of France and Tiago APOLONIA of Portugal today.
“The duel against Simon was much more difficult. It was 2:2 in games, then 10:10 and 11:11…very close game with Simon changing the pace through the match. At some point he was very passive and then he changed, but at the end I had a little bit more luck,” explained SAMSONOV who won in six games.
Against Apolonia he faced difficulties only in the opening game.
“In the opening game he was in the lead 9:7, but I won 11:9. That was the turning point. After that I got complete control,” said SAMSONOV.
APOLONIA admitted that he always play hard against Vladimir.
“I never beat him. I think I lost last 10 encounters,” said Tiago.