Eight Europeans fight in HalmstadPhoto: Courtesy ITTF
Actual finalists from recent 2015 LIEBHERR ITTF European Championships, Dimitrij OVTCHAROV and Marcos FREITAS, are the biggest hopes of Old Continent at the LIEBHERR ITTF 2015 Men`s World Cup which starts today
The 2015 LIEBHERR Men`s World Cup in Halmstad, which starts today, has gathered 20 top world players and among them eight Europeans: Dimitrij OVTCHAROV (GER, no. 3 seed), Marcos FREITAS (POR, 5), Tiago APOLONIA (POR, 10), Panagiotis GIONIS (GRE, 11), Robert GARDOS (AUT, 12), Simon GAUZY (FRA, 13), Kristian KARLSSON (SWE, 16) and Anton KALLBERG (SWE, 18).
Two biggest hopes of Old Continent are the finalists of the recent 2015 LIEBHERR ITTF European Championships, OVTCHAROV and FREITAS. German, actual European champion will have his eight attempt to progress in the World Cup semi-final at least, because his best achievement of this event were five quarter-finals. In the last one, in 2014 Stuttgart, he was beaten by his compatriot Timo BOLL in straight games. OVTCHAROV has 13-11 score in previous seven his participations. Portuguese will fight fourth time in this competition, having one quarter-final (2013).
The most successful European in the history of World Cup (1980-2014) is Vladimir SAMSONOV with three titles, followed by Zoran PRIMORAC and Timo BOLL, each has two. Record holder is Chinese MA Lin (4). Concerning number of participation, two European legends are on the top: Jean-Michel SAIVE and Jan-Ove WALDNER (18 times each).
The 2014 runner-up MA Long, who lost the latest final from his compatriot ZHANG Jike in seven games, now has a chance to go down in history. The 27 year old Chinese needs to win the second ITTF world title event of the year, in order to keep his hopes of becoming a table tennis grand slam alive. The table tennis grand slam consists of winning the World Championships, the World Cup and the Olympic Games. The last man to achieve this was his team mate ZHANG Jike, who complete the feat by becoming the 2011 World Champion, 2011 Men's World Cup Champion and the 2012 Olympic Champion.
The Liebherr 2015 ITTF Men's World Cup only consists of 20 of the world's best players. 17 of the players competing here had to qualify through their respective Continental Cups, which means only the best of the best can compete. The only three other players to receive the golden ticket to play in the 2015 ITTF Men's World Cup are the current World Champion MA Long (CHN),one host country representative Kristian KARLSSON (SWE), and 18 year old Anton KALLBERG (SWE) who received a wildcard into the event.
Kicking off the event are seeds nine to 20, playing round robin in four groups of three players (two matches each). The top two players from each group progresses to the second round of the competition. First two matches which will be held today are Robert GARDOS – Anton KALLBERG, Panagitois GIONIS – Jimmy BUTLER (both at 13:00 CET)
LIEBHERR 2015 Men´s World Cup, Halmstad, Sweden, October 16-18th
GROUP 1: GAO Ning, Kristian KARLLSON and William HENZELL
GROUP 2: Tiago APOLONIA, Omar ASSAR and Gustavo TSUBOI
GROUP 3: Panagiotis GIONIS, Simon GAUZY and Jimmy BUTLER
GROUP 4: Robert GARDOS, Sharat-Kamal ACHANTA and Anton KALLBERG
1 MA Long (CHN)
2 FAN Zhendong (CHN)
3 Dimitrij OVTCHAROV (GER)
4 Jun MIZUTANI (JPN)
5 Marcos FREITAS (POR)
6 CHUANG Chih-Yuan (TPE)
7 Koki NIWA (JPN)
8 TANG Peng (HKG)
9 GAO Ning (SIN)
10 Tiago APOLONIA (POR)
11 Panagiotis GIONIS (GRE)
12 Robert GARDOS (AUT)
13 Simon GAUZY (FRA)
14 Omar ASSAR (EGY)
15 Sharat-Kamal ACHANTA (IND)
16 Kristian KARLSSON (SWE)
17 Gustavo TSUBOI (BRA)
18 Anton KALLBERG (SWE)
19 William HENZELL (AUS)
20 Jimmy BUTLER (USA)