Slovakia upset the reigning championsPhoto: Rémy Gros ITTF
Germany showed no cracks in their armor at the beginning of the quest toward the medal rostrum in the Men’s Event at the LIEBHERR ITTF European Championships in Luxembourg. Team that occupies top spot at the standings defeated Spain in straight matches.
Ruwen FILUS beat Alvaro ROBLES in four games, but duels Dimitrij OVTCHAROV vs. Carlos MACHADO and Patrick FRANZISKA vs. Jesus CANTERO concluded in straight games.
“The first game is always difficult –even if the adversary is not as strong as we are on paper. It is always important to start the tournament with a victory. I was lucky in some points but I managed to land a comfortable win. My personal fitness is very well, because my injury is entirely gone and I do not feel any problem in the least,” said FRANZISKA. “Ruwen FILUS produced a few lucky strokes and almost brought his opponent to despair before we eventually delivered a comfortable win.”
The next game Germany will play against Croatia.
“It will be much closer game, because they have a better top player and have a higher ranking…we will have an early night and try to be in good shape tomorrow morning ,” added FRANZISKA.
In the same Group A, Croatia beat Belarus 3:1. Andrej GACINA produced two wins for his team.
Slovak Republic creates a big upset by beating Austria. Reigning champions were 2:0 in the lead, before Slovaks recovered to record the win in impressive style. Daniel HABESOHN beat Lubomir PISTEJ and Robert GARDOS prevailed against Peter SEREDA when the pendulum swung and in epic battle WANG Yang overcame Stefan FEGERL. First three matches concluded in five games, but after Slovaks took the grip they held it firmly. SEREDA and PISTEJ sealed both their matches in straight games.
“ Austrian players are much better ranked; we are very happy that we beat them. It is for a first time after long period, that we recorded a victory against them” said SEREDA. “After two defeats in the first 2 singles we needed all our self-confidence to recover and we needed some lucky but also. PISTEJ focused all his energy and self-assurance to defeat GARDOS in the final game .”
Lubomir PISTEJ explained.
“I haven’t played for long time so I just tried to play my games. Against Daniel HABESOHN, I felt he was better than me. He beat me in 5 sets but 3:2 isn’t so bad. The decisive match was a never-ending story. It was a big challenge physically. I thought that we would be in the hotel at 3 o’clock. But I am so happy that we aren’t in the hotel because we won. I think our tactic with such team draw was a good choice. FEGERL, the number one of Austria was put in number 3 because he didn’t want to play with WANG Yang, our strongest player, but we put him in also number 3 so they met. Now we waiting for the match against Slovenia with great optimism.”
Portugal accounted for Slovenia in straight matches. The former European champions Marcos FREITAS, Joao MONTEIRO and Tiago APOLONIA prevailed against Darko JORGIC, Bojan TOKIC and Deni KOZUL.
“It is always important, at the outset of a tournament, to start off with a victory against an opponent like Slovenia. In addition, I knew the venue from the Olympic Qualifying Tournament, so I did not feel particularly nervous, as I am accustomed to this kind of pressure. Besides the playing conditions are excellent,” stressed Tiago APOLONIA. “Slovenia’s no. one TOKIC is very good and they also have a lot of talented young players, but normally on paper we should win as they are behind us at the rankings… “