OVTCHAROV and SAMARA defend their titles in BudapestPhoto: Courtesy ITTF
LIEBHERR 2016 ITTF European Championships commences on Tuesday 18th October and will be concluded on Sunday 23rd October
LIEBHERR 2016 ITTF European Championships will be opened on Tuesday 18th October, as German Dimitrij OVTCHAROV and Elizabeta SAMARA from Romania defend most prestigious titles in Budapest`s Tüskecsarnok Hall. Hungarian capital city host tournament third time in its history, after inaugural one in 1958, as well as in 1982. This time Budapest will see 132 Men`s players from 43 countries and 112 Women`s players from 40 countries.
Last year in Ekaterunburg some important changes were adopted. Starting from 2016, the Individual European Championships will be played in even numbered years. In addition to the men's singles, the women's singles, the men's doubles, the women's doubles will be the mixed doubles events. It will be first Mixed Doubles appearance since Serbia’s Aleksandar KARAKASEVIC and Lithuania's Ruta PASKAUSKIENE won gold in Belgrade in 2007.
Beside Dimitrij OVTCHAROV and Elizabeta SAMARA, the 2015 champions were also Men´s Doubles Stefan FEGERL, Joao MONTEIRO (AUT/POR) and Women´s Doubles HU Melek, SHEN Yanfei (TUR/ESP).
OVTCHAROV will be again top seeded player at the Men Singles Event, fighting for his third title, the score which his team mate from Orenburg Vladimir SAMSONOV, actual No. 2 seed, already owns. If 28-year-old German takes new gold, he will repeat feat of his compatriot Timo BOLL who took three consecutive crowns from 2010 to 2012. But, BOLL holds the impressive record of six individual gold medals in total.
Last year`s runner-up Marcos FREITAS is No. 3 seed, followed by Timo BOLL (No. 4), Tiago APOLONIA (No. 5), Simon GAUZY (No. 6), Stefan FEGERL (No. 7), Andrej GACINA (No.8), Alexander SHIBAEV (No. 9) and 2013 individual bronze medalist Panagiotis GIONIS (No. 10) among the Top 10 seeds.
Elizabeta SAMARA of Romania upset favorites in Ekaterinburg, playing her best table tennis in the amazing final clash against LI Jie of Netherlands - 4:3 (11:6, 9:11, 3:11, 11:7, 12:14, 11:4, 11:4). She will defend her title as No. 7 seed, while LI is No. 5. The 2013 bronze medalist HAN Ying (Germany) tops seeding list, followed by two her team mates from silver Olympic team Petrissa SOLJA (No. 2) and SHAN Xiaona (No. 3). Other Top 10 seeds are 2005 European champion LIU Jia (No. 4). from Austria, Turkey`s HU Melek (No. 6), biggest hope of host nation Georgina POTA (No. 8), Portugal`s FU Yu (No. 9) and the 2013 winner LI Fen from Sweden (No. 10).
In singles events 32 seeded players shall be directly placed in the first round proper. All remaining players shall play in a qualification stage, played in groups of not less than 4 players.