Tiago APOLONIA gave joy to host nation supportersPhoto: Rita TABORDA
ITTF Europe Top 16 Cup in Gondomar
Favorites prevailed in the opening round of the Men’s Event at the ITTF Europe Top 16 Cup in Gondomar, Portugal, but few of them were under severe pressure.
Leading name in the Group A, reigning champion Dimitrij OVTCHAROV of Germany, however, was not suffering at all. In the duel against Simon GAUZY of France he succeeded in straight games 3:0 (11-8, 11-4, 14-12). It was reverse scenario for the second seeded player in the group Greece’s Panagiotis GIONIS. He was stretched to full distance against Joao MONTEIRO of Portugal 3:2 (6-11, 11-9, 6-11, 11-5,13-11).
“It was not good start for me, but eventually I settled into the right rhythm. I lift my game to play at the higher level. I think I was more confident and had more patience, which helped me in closing stages, when it was really close, “ explained GIONIS.
Very tight finish after MONTERO recovered from GIONIS’ quick lead brought some bad memories to PANAGIOTIS.
“Last year Joao beat me in the groups stages in Baku,” reminded us GIONIS.
In Group B Vladimir SAMOSNOV of Belarus beat Par GERELL of Sweden 3:1 (11-5, 11-9, 7-11, 11-7) whilst Stefan FEGERL of Austria overcame Adrien MATTENET of France 3:0 (11-9, 11-5, 11-9).
“Judging by the result it seams easy, but two games concluded by narrow margin. I was down two times in the match. At the beginning, after 8:3, I was losing 8:9, and then in the third game it was 9:7 for Adrien. If he had won even one game, it will be completely different match. Fortunately I kept the game under control,” said FEGERL.
Robert GARDOS of Austria, currently ranked at the position no. 6 in Europe suffered by the hands of Kristian KARLSSON of Sweden, Europe’s no. 13. KARLSSON posted very convincing victory 0:3 (6-11, 6-11, 7-11).
“Three months ago I beat GARDOS in the French league. It was my first victory in five encounters. It gave me confidence here. It is much easer to have in the back of your mind that you already beat someone then to come with the 0:5 record against you,” explained KARLSSON.
Kristian had a control from a very beginning.
“When you play against GARDOS the most important segment is service-return game. I was strong in that part today.”
Andrej GACINA of Croatia beat Alexander SHIBAEV of Russia 3:1 (8-11, 12-10, 11-9, 11-7).
Both Germany vs. Portugal matches were stretched to full distance in the opening round. In addition in both cases players from Germany recovered from two games to 0 in reverse to level the duels, but only one prevailed.
The Top 16 winner from Lausanne, Marcos FREITAS suffered by the hands of Bastian STEGER 2:3 (11-8, 11-7, 7-11, 7-11,7-11).
“I was not very bad at the beginning, but Marcos played at the top level. I had to wait for him to make some errors on service. As the game progressed, my receive improved. I really can tell I had a perfect game,” said STEGER.
Tiago APOLONIA was the player who brought joy for host nation supporters. He beat Ruwen FILUS 3:2 (11-9, 11-8, 6-11, 9-11,11-8).
“For the players with the defensive style of play is always hard to adjust to the new hall. It takes more time then for the others. That is why I had an easy 2:0 lead. However, it was the meter of time before FILUS found his game and right rhythm. I was expecting that too. He raised his game and came back to game stronger in the closing stages,” explained APOLONIA.