Dramatic semi final ends with Portugal’s triumph against FrancePhoto: Rémy Gros ITTF
Champions from Lisbon 2015, team of Portugal booked their place in the final of the LIEBHERR ITTF European Championships in Luxembourg. The drama that preceded this victory delivered the very best of table tennis to the spectators in beautiful D Coque. France, the team with three titles so far, has to settle with the bronze medal.
The way the match started, it did not promised a long fight. Tiago APOLONIA overcame Simon GAUZY in straight matches (4:11, 4:11, 8:11).
“Maybe it looked easy but it was far from that. I played very good and maybe that made a illusion it was the easy match,” said APOLONIA. ”There are no easy matches at this Championships. All the adversaries are very dangerous. I guess that every team from the top went through heavy challenges. The team of Germany is the only real favorite here.”
Marcos FREITAS put Portugal in the driving seat with the 3:1 win over European singles champion from Budapest last year, Emmanuel LEBESSON (2:11, 8:11, 11:9, 9:11), but the pendulum swung in the next match. Quentin ROBINOT beat Joao MONTEIRO (11:9, 11:1, 9:11, 7:11, 11:9). After 2:0 for Robinot, MONETEIRO recovered, but he could not kept the momentum alive.
“It was very close game. He had 7:2 in the opening game, and who knows what could happened if he won…In this kind of matches one or two balls decides everything.”
In the fourth game instead of GAUZY, Tristan FLORE entered the arena to play against Marcos FREITAS. Earlier this year at the World Championships in Dusseldorf FLORE played against FREITAS, came back from 3:0 to level the match, but lost by narrow margin 12:10 in seventh game. This time he prevailed in straight games (12:10, 11:8, 11:9).
In the last match APOLONIA was in the game again and once again he succeeded. This time against LEBESSON.
“I can only repeat that I played good, like in the opening match, but it is a great difference when you start at 0:0 and when you return to the game at 2:2, especially after you face the adversary who recovered from two matches to null in reverse. They were on fire and I was under great pressure,” explained APOLONIA.