Simon GAUZY : We will be a hard team to beatPhoto: Rémy Gros
Greece inflicted the pain in the hart of the host nation supporters in the opening round of the Men’s Singles Event at the LIEBHERR ITTF European Championships in Luxembourg. They prevailed in straight matches.
Panagiotis GIONIS overcame Gilles MICHELY, Konstantinos PAPAGEORGIOU prevailed against Eric GLOD, whilst Anastasios RINIOTIS beat Luka MLADENOVIC.
“We arrived very late here, only yesterday. The whole team is still very tired. I was little bit worry, but eventually we recorded important victory at the beginnings, to ease the pressure. MICHELY settled quickly into the good rhythm, but Panagiotis proved his class and rankings. I expected much closer game in the PAPAGEORGIOU’s and RINIOTIS’ matches but they were under no pressure today,” explained coach Konstantinos VATSAKLIS.
Top ranked player of Greece, GIONIS, no. 7 in Europe admitted it was not easy start for him.
“My first match was difficult because it was the first one at the Championships and I didn’t play in this venue before. I played against Gilles, I know well his style because we have played many times against each other in the past. His technique is very good. So I had to be focused on his serves. I tried to play aggressive. At the end of third game I finally find my rhythm. Our next match will be against Sweden and it will be a strong one, but we will fight to be at the top of our group and I hope we will be in the quarterfinal.
Luka MLADENOVIC found it hard to talk after defeat.
“I’m very disappointed with my match. I was feeling uncomfortable throughout the whole duel and my mind was not set on the match, even though I didn’t feel a high pressure. I’m sorry for the fans for showing this kind of performance, but my adversary was playing with the right tactics against me and I was struggling to stick to a match plan. Nevertheless, I look forward to the next games. Against Russia with a little chance we could get a good result as they are not competing with their strongest team.”
The leaders in Group C, team of Sweden overcame Russia in straight matches.
“I was not under pressure after good performance of Anton KALLBERG and Kristian KARLSSON. Despite that I have been a little nervous before my opening match at the Championships; Russia’s players are strong. When I exchanged few rallies it was easier and I settled into the good rhythm. For me it was very important to attack from the first ball and try to play short on the serves. I controlled the game,” said Mattias KARLSSON.
France beat Poland and it was Simon GAUZY whose good performance caught the eye and who gave France a dream start of the Championships.
“We are a team which you have to beat. It will be difficult for everyone to win against us, but also for us every game is a challenge. We are still young. It’s only recently that Emmanuel LEBESSON reached the top and become European singles champion. Playing with a young team is always difficult, especially if you play against a team as dangerous as Poland. They have players who could beat us if you look to the rankings. Now we boosted our confidence. Personally, I had a very good match against Jakub DYJAS. Emmanuel had a difficult start, but finished his match strongly against WANG Zengyi, which maybe eased the pressure on him for the remaining matches,” said Simon GAUZY.
The last year’s winner of the gold medal at the European Championships in Budapest, Emmanuel LEBESSON said that the victory was important for his confidence.
“In this kind of competition it’s always important to win the first match. I tried to play point after point and game after game without thinking of the end. I told myself if I loose my match we would still be at 2-2, so we could still have a chance to win the game. I felt bad, but I tried to continue. I knew that I had one more chance after winning the third set. I tried to stay calm and continue to play my game. It was difficult, also with the umpire complaining about my service, which I had to change. I tried to control my emotion. WANG played very good in the firsts two games. Then he made some mistakes and I made some good points. After the 2-1 I knew I could win. The most difficult was to start the set at 2-2, to get and keep the lead. It was a really tough match also for the whole team. I hope I will play better tomorrow, against Ukraine and Romania.”
Ukraine recorded victory against Romania. KOU Lei won both his matches.