Viktoria PAVLOVICH joined the elite in GondomarPhoto: Courtesy of ITTF
ITTF Europe Top 16 Cup
The Women's Event at the ITTF Europe Top 16 Cup went under changes one more time. The list of contenders for the crown at the forthcoming 2016 ITTF-Europe Top 16 Cup to be staged in Gondomar, Portugal from Friday 5th to Sunday 7th February, has another new name. After the withdrawal of Ukraine's Margaryta PESOTSKA, the invitation was accepted by Viktoria PAVLOVICH.
With 12 appearances, the player from Belarus will be one of the most experienced challenger with equal number of appearances as reigning champion LIU Jia of Austria, who won the title three times already.
They are followed closely only by Luxembourg's NI Xia Lian played 11 times and clinched titles three times. NI won the last title in Sweden's Almstad in 1998, whilst PAVLOVICH reached second place twice and never had won the crown. Last time she played in the final in Lausanne in 2014.
The top seeded, European Championships and European Games champion, OVTCHAROV will fight for the third title at the ITTF Europe Top 16 Cup. The five times winner of the Top 12 events Timo BOLL of Germany is seeded no. two, followed by Lausanne's gold medalist Marcos FREITAS, the host nation favorites. Seeded no. four is the player who participated 18 times and won four titles, Vladimir SAMSONOV of Belarus.
The no. five seed is Andrej GACINA (Croatia) and on the list are also the members of the European Championships golden team Stefan FEGERL (Austria) and Robert GARDOS (Austria). Seeded no. eight is Panagiotis GIONIS (Greece), followed by Tiago APOLONIA (Portugal), Pär GERELL (Sweden), Simon GAUZY (France), Alexander SHIBAEV (Russia), Ruwen FILUS (Germany), Kristian KARLSSON (Sweden), Bastian STEGER (Germany) and João MONTEIRO (Portugal).
The leading position at the seeding took another German player in great form, Petrissa SOLJA. Last year in Baku SOLJA played in the final. She is ranked at position no. two in Europe currently.
No. two seed is Romania's Elizabeta SAMARA. For the European champion, it will be seventh appearance at the tournament. For the fourth time HU Melek of Turkey will try to beat her best result so far – no. three spot. She is seeded no. three.
Reigning champion LIU Jia of Austria is seeded no four. Beside Baku, LIU Jia succeeded in Lausanne in 2014, having almost a decade earlier prevailed in Rennes in 2005.
Seeded no. five is Georgina POTA (Hungary), followed by Tetyana BILENKO (Ukraine), SHEN Yanfei (Spain), Polina MIKHAILOVA (Russia), Sabine WINTER (Germany), WU Jiaduo (Germany), Sofia POLCANOVA (Austria), NI Xialian (Luxembourg), Kristin SILBEREISEN (Germany), Bernadette SZOCS (Romania) and Leila OLIVEIRA (Portugal).
The Top 16 is a qualification event for the World Cup.