Shock outcomes take headlines in opening matches in AntibesPhoto: Rémy Gros
2017 ITTF Europe Top 16
Friday 3rd February marked the start of the 2017 ITTF Europe Top 16 Cup competition in Antibes, France and the morning session of action on the opening day was filled with much drama across both the Men’s and Women’s Singles categories.
Emmanuel LEBESSON has given the home crowd plenty to cheer about after he picked up one of the biggest results in his professional career to date. Crowned Men’s Singles champion at the LIEBHERR 2016 European Championships, LEBESSON was adamant about continuing his fine form and achieved a shock fifth game win over Vladimir SAMSONOV (15-13, 4-11, 11-6, 6-11, 9-11).
“It’s a big win for me because I didn’t know my form before this tournament and I’m happy to beat this type of player because he is just hard player in the group and I know that this afternoon will also be very hard to win against two big players. It is really good to win the first match and to win as fast as you can because it’s the first match, we will see this afternoon. I will try to rest to have energy for this afternoon…” Emmanuel LEBESSON.
The fans were left stunned after the start of play at the Azur Arena as Marcos FREITAS, champion from the 2014 Europe Top 12 competition, suffered an opening match defeat. FREITAS is seeded fourth for the Men’s Singles competition and was hoping to get his campaign in Antibes off to a strong start. However, the Portuguese competitor struggled to get into his encounter against Croatia’s Andrej GACINA and after just three games the match was over and ended up in GACINA’s favor (9-11, 7-11, 3-11).
“I’m happy, I played really well and I had good tactics. It was important to change the tactics all the time during the match I was leading the game all the time and this gave me confidence. I received his serve really well which was key, and after that it was much easier. We are teammates in Russia we know each other very well, we have played many times. I will give my best and see what happens”, Andrej GACINA.
Romania’s Bernadette SZOCS went into the day having never previously managed to progress beyond the group stages at the Europe Top 16. 2017 could well be her year, however, after she made the best possible start to the 2017 ITTF Europe Top 16 Cup with a breath- taking 3-2 victory over Poland’s LI Qian (6-11, 12-10, 11-8, 8-11, 12-10).
“I am really happy because I didn’t star well in the last two Europe Top 16 competition and I never went through the group stage. I beat a top player, I’m really happy that I beat her because the last time I played against her I lost 0-3 but I have beaten her before. It’s a really good result for me”, Bernadette SZOCS.
Next up for SZOCS is a tie with Belarusian player Viktoria PAVLOVICH, who also picked up a surprising win in her opening match as she saw off the no.4 seed LI Jie in straight games (11-7, 14-12, 12-10).
Elsewhere in the Women’s Singles competition there was a fantastic performance from Daniela MONTEIRO DODEAN who overcame the LIEBHERR 2016 European Championships Women’s Singles title winner HU Melek without dropping a single game (…)
“I feel very good, because I’ve had a long break. For about three years I didn’t play because of my injury and my baby and I’m happy to have a good result in the first match because I have a very tough group. Normally against Georgina POTA I win often and last time I lost also against Sofia Polcanova, but this result is good for me and I hope in the next matches that I can do better”, Daniela MONTEIRO DODEAN.