TTCLM semi-finals: Games without secretsPhoto: ZHURAVLEV
Eslovs hosts Olimpia (March 11th) in the remake of the 2014/15 ETTU Cup final, while Orenburg travels to France to meet Pontoise (March 13th) in the reprise of the 2013/14 TTCLM final
First matches of the 2015/16 TTCLM semifinals will be the meetings of old acquaintances: Eslovs Al Bordtennis – Olimpia Unia Grudziadz (March 11th, 19:00) and AS Pontoise Cergy – Fakel Gazproma Orenburg (March 13th, 17:00). The same pairings have emerged in the two finals in the last two seasons: the 2014/15 ETTU Cup and 2013/14 TTCLM respectively.
Eslovs beat Olimpia last spring to reach its first ever ETTU Cup trophy, but now both sides enjoy in their best ever achievements in the TTCLM. Virtually nothing has changed since their previous meeting, bearing in mind that five out of six players will be engaged (Yaroslaw ZHMUDENKO is new face in the Olimpia`s line-up), thus we can expect one more intense game. Polish champion is aware that they must prevent XU Hui to reach again two points. Chinese was unstoppable in the ETTU Cup finals, winning four encounters in total: Swedish champion won twice 3:2 at home, 3:1 away.
Olimpia sees its chance in the fact that WANG Yang and Yoshida KAII are in much better form than last season. Coach Piotr SZAFRANEK was satisfied with a preparation period in Gdansk, having all players in the hall since ZHMUDENKO arrived on Tuesday. “Players are mobilized and in a good shape, hence we are counting on victory in Sweden”, stated briefly coach SZAFRANEK.
Regarding clash which will be held in France, the better side after two legs will emerge as a huge favorite in the final, knowing how strong line-ups have both clubs, Pontoise and Orenburg. French team shocked Russian giant in the 2013/14 TTCLM final, taking the title because of better set-ratio (3:1, 1:3, 18:16). Last year, in the group stage, each side surprisingly won 3:0 away. Four Top 30 players at the ITTF World ranking list will be available in the forthcoming clash - Dimitrij OVTCHAROV (no. 5, Orenburg), Vladimir SAMSONOV (no. 9, Orenburg), Marcos FREITAS (no. 16, Pontoise) and Kristian KARLSSON (no. 27, Pontoise) but, previous meetings showed that Alexey SMIRNOV and WANG Jian Jun could emerge as pivotal factors.
“It is expected a very intense match of constant rivals, the two best clubs in Europe. Our opponent is a strong team, but Fakel - Gazprom is set up only to win in the upcoming TTCLM semifinal match. All our players are intensively preparing. The team is incredibly motivated which should contribute to our success”, stressed Victor ANDREEV, head coach of TTC Fakel – Gazprom.
The 1st semi-final leg of 2015/16 TTCLM
Eslovs Al Bordtennis – Olimpia Unia Grudziadz (March 11th, 19:00)
AS Pontoise Cergy – Fakel Gazproma Orenburg (March 13th, 17:00)