Portugal prevailed in thrilling encounter against reigning championsPhoto: Rémy Gros ITTF
Safely, Germany the top seeds at the LIEBHERR ITTF European Championships in Luxembourg secured second victory in the Group Stages of the Men’s Teams Event. Like day earlier against Spain, they prevailed against Croatia in straight matches.
Ruwen FILUS overcome Tomislaw KOLAREK, and duels Dimitrij OVTCHAROV vs. Cipin FILIP and Ricardo Walther vs. Frane KOJIC concluded in straight games.
“This was my first match here at the Championships, so I was a little nervous but I am used to that. I made too many mistakes, particularly in the third set. But I stayed very focused throughout the fourth set and I won my match. All in all, I think my match was good,” said Ricardo WALTHER. “I have already been here in Luxembourg a few times and I must say that it’s really a bit like Germany. There are no language problems, because almost everybody understands German. Unfortunately, we can’t see much of the city itself and unfortunately the weather is quite bad.”
In the same Group Spain overcame Belarus 3:1.
“It was important one for us. Only with victory we could hope for the second position in the group and the place in the quarterfinal. Luckily, we managed to win 3-1. But it was not easy, all the matches were very close. However, we knew our adversaries already from earlier tournaments and championships, so we were well prepared” said Alvaro ROBLES.
Carlos MACHADO suffered by the hands of Pavel PLATONOV, whilst Alvaro ROBLES beat Aliaksandr KHANIN and PLATONOV. Jesus CANTERO accounted for Gleb SHAMRUK.
In Group B, in the penultimate round of the Group stage, Portugal justified their status, but not without great fight. European Men's Team Champions from two years ago in Ekateringburg Austria stretched former European Champions from Lisbon to full distance. They needed four hours to do that.
Marcos FREITAS gave favorites good start with the victory over Robert GARDOS, but Stefan FEGERL fought back and beat Tiago APOLONIA in five games match. Daniel HABESOHN repeated the success and overcame Joao MONTEIRO by same margin to give Austria the lead. FREITAS once again proved to strong and overcame FEGERL, whilst APOLONIA sealed the match with the victory over GARDOS. All matches beside the opening one concluded in five games.
“Today we played against the reigning European champions and it creates a great pressure. The victory is very important for us in terms of our current standings, but also as a boost of self-confidence. Fortunately we overcome Austria in a big and long battle. I know well my adversaries because we have had many matches against each other and sometimes we practice together. We played very close games so I had to stay calm. The fast forehand is my secret. I always try to play as much as possible with my forehand because this is my strongest weapon. And I try to adapt in my game the new plastic ball,” said Tiago APOLONIA.
Marcos won both his encounters.
"I am very happy with my matches today. The Austrian players are nearly as good in the ranking as we are, so we knew that it could be a close, tough match. We knew in which order they would play and therefore we had a good tactic in advance because we played often against them in the past. Being two matches behind and so close to losing the whole game, we were very lucky winning the two following matches. At least the deciding fifth match, the second five-set-match in the whole game, Tiago Apolonia finally could win after a close fight," said FREITAS.
Daniel HABESOHN was disappointed after narrow defeat.
“All in all, the match was good but unfortunately we lost it. We’re disappointed right now because it was an important match to win, as we have already lost the match against Slovenia yesterday. So we were under pressure,” said HABESOHN.
Austria lost both their encounters in five matches. Currently Slovenia and Slovakia shares second position with one win and defeat each.