Nerves of steel see Dimitrij OVTCHAROV over the linePhoto: ITTF
2017 ITTF Europe Top 16 Cup
The two finalists for the Men’s Singles competition at the 2017 ITTF Europe Top 16 Cup were decided midway through the final day of action in Antibes on Sunday 5th February with Dimitrij OVTCHAROV and Alexander SHIBAEV booking their spots in the final.
Germany's Dimitrij OVTCHAROV showed great character in the semi-finals of the Men's Singles after he dispatched Ukraine's KOU Lei in seven games.
OVTCHAROV managed to establish a strong 3-0 lead in games, but a remarkable turnaround saw KOU claim the next three games to pull the tie level at 3-3. The momentum was with the Ukrainian player KOU but OVTCHAROV held his nerve to move into the final (11-8, 11-9, 11-8, 10-12, 3-11, 2-11, 11-6).
Eventual success for Dimitrij OVTCHAROV who, in his excitement, had perhaps forgotten his defeat of three years ago: "Of course I'm happy to be in the final. The opponents, all 16 in Europe are extremely tough. It's my fourth final in the past five years and I hope I can make it and win this final", Dimitrij OVTCHAROV.
It was his fourth consecutive semi-final but not his fourth penultimate round win. In 2014 in Lausanne he was beaten by Denmark's Michael MAZE in the penultimate round but in 2012 in Lyon, 2015 in Baku and most recently last year in Gondomar he progressed to win the event.
The last two Europe Top 16 titles have been won by OVTCHAROV. As top seed for the competition in Antibes, OVTCHAROV will have an opportunity to make it three trophy wins in a row on Sunday 5th February after booking his place in the 2017 final in dramatic fashion.
Alexander SHIBAEV is the other competitor in the final, following the Russian's defeat of Simon GAUZY.
Arguably SHIBAEV has been one of the standout players at the 2017 ITTF Europe Top 16 Cup, having claimed victories over the likes of the no.4 seed Marcos FREITAS and Tiago APOLONIA during the opening two days.
Now SHIBAEV has added GAUZY to his list of wins in Antibes, beating the Frenchman in six games (11-7, 11-9, 8-11, 12-10, 8-11, 11-9).
The result ultimately left the home fans disappointed, but the chants of 'Simon GAUZY' continued to sound even following his defeat and the French player can feel happy about his overall showing at the competition.