OVTCHAROV vs. MONTEIRO- battle for the thronePhoto: Rita TABORDA
2016 ITTF Europe TOP 16 in Gondomar
Will Dimitrij OVTCHAROV win his third title, or Joao MONTEIRO his first one at the 2016 ITTF Europe TOP 16 in Gondomar? We will know it in the early evening hours today, after the final battle in the Pavilhao Multiusos de Gondomar. Both players booked their places in the ultimate stage of the Europe’s most prestigues event.
In the semi final Dimitrij OVTCHAROV faced a lot of pressure against Kristian KARLSSON of Sweden -4:3 (12-14,11-9,11-5,9-11,2-11,11-8,11-8), but eventually he sealed another victory. In the first part of the duel KARLSSON was the man who controlled the match. He put no. one seed under severe pressure with heavy spins to secure 3:2 lead and 6:3 advantage in the sixth game.
“KARLSSON is one of the fastest players in Europe. He hits the ball with extreme power. It was difficult to play against him. However, in the sixth game my experience prevailed. I am playing very well in this tournament and I feel I deserved this victory,” said OVTCHAROV who beat KARLSSON last time in straight games at the Qatar open 2013.
However, Dimitrij admitted he has not reached the highest level of the fitness yet.
“It is long season. I also suffered from the back injury and now I am in the phase of training process when I just have to regain my speed.”
Like OVTCHAROV, host nation pride, Joao MONTEIRO also needed full seven games to made his way to the final. Joao beat Alexander SHIBAEV of Russia on his penultimate hurdle 4:3 (11-13,11-4,10-12,11-9,11-4,11-13,11-9). Also similar to OVTCHAROV and KARLSSON, the second semifinal pairings, last time met at the Qatar open. But at that time SHIBAEV was the one who succeeded.
“His style of play is lethal for the lefthanders. Already, he beat many good players who uses left hand, “explained MONTEIRO.” Fourth game was very important. I recovered to level. I won easily next game and had an opportunity to seal the match in next set, but I maintained my focus to do it in decisive game.”
Two days earlier against OVTCHAROV, MONTEIRO recorded victory against no. one seed in the Group Stages of the event.
“Before that it has been a while since I beat him. I remember succeeding at the European Championships in 2008 and 2012 at Swiss open.”