The upsets shattered the men’s eventPhoto: Vladimir ZDANOVICH
The highest ranked men on duty in the first phase of the Men’s Singles at the 2018 BELGOSSTRAKH European Under 21 Championships in Minsk Marek BADOWSKI of Poland suffered by the hands of Tobias HIPPLER of Germany. He lost in five games.
Next in line to fall was Ibrahim GUNDUZ of Turkey. Carlo ROSSI of Italy prevailed in seven games. Andrei PUTUNTICA followed the path by beating Nils HOHMEIER of Germany. Vladimir SIDORENKO of Russia joined the winning line after success over Simon BERLUNGD of Sweden. Tomasz KOTOWSKI of Poland overcame Konstantin CHERNOV of Russia, whilst the list of upsets concluded with the Austria’s Thomas GRININGER’s victory over Simon SUDERLUND of Sweden.
“I did nothing special to beat BERLUNGD. No big changes in game, no dramatic moments, just kept being focused until the end of the game. The emotions were very strong, but I was stronger. I played with this player two years ago, and I won that match, too. The venue plays its role, too: the ceilings here are very high, and because of this you can’t always hear the ball, hence you have to pay maximum attention to the speed of the game. Also I wasn’t always able to come close to the table due to this,” said SIDORENKO.
Deni KOZUL of Slovenia, second ranked player in first phase beat Stanislav KUCERA of Czech Republic to justify his status.
Artur ABUSEV of Russia recovered from the opening match defeat against Jiri MARTINKO of Czech Republic to beat Medardas STANKEVICIUS of Lithuania.
“The first match was not very successful for me, but this game was just fine. My adversary is younger than me, but it was the challenge to play with. I didn’t make a lot of changes to my tactics, I worked with spins to make more of them and change the direction of the spins,” said ABUSEV.
Konstantinos ANGELAKIS of Greece reached the top spot in the group by beating Joan MASIP of Spain and Thomas GRININGER of Austria.
“The game was just fine at the beginning of the match, I played to the middle of the table and applied many top spins, which confused my opponent. Then, at 2:0, he read my tactics, which resulted in me losing the third game and nearly missing fourth game,” admitted ANGELAKIS.
Tatiana KUKULOVA of Slovakia created the upset in the second round by beating ZHANG Xuan of Spain. “My adversary is left-handed, and I can use it to my favor. She won the first set, after which I strengthened my serves and played more to the middle of the table. I’m extremely happy about this win, because this player is much more than just “good”.”
Marketa SEVICKOVA added another victory to her scoreboard. This time it was Julia SLAZAK who suffered by the hands of Czechs hands.
“This match was much easier than the previous one. I have played against her many times before, so I know her strong and weak moments, and I know that she is not very good in defense. I took the advantage of it and just played,” said SEVICKOVA.
Young Romania’s player Elena ZAHARIA overcame Nikoleta PUCHAVANOVA of Slovakia.
“It was a nice match. We know each other very well; we have played against each other so many times before. She was trying to put the ball on the table, and I served with downspins and up spins, hence gaining points. My tactics was quite simple. I’m 13, so I feel a bit uncomfortable in this U21 tournament, but in the end it’s just fine,” explained ZAHARIA who is still cadet.
Zdena BLASKOVA of Czech Republic recorded second win against great favorite Andreea DRAGOMAN.
“I was confident about this game, but I’m still happy that I’ve won. My preparation was not very good, but everything seems to be just fine now. I faced my opponent two weeks ago and won then. I know her tactics, I can see perfectly well that she prefers to use backhands, so once she applies a backhand, I know the direction of the ball,” sais BLASKOVA.
Valeria SHCHERBATYKH of Russia beat Fanni HARASZTOVIOCH of Hungary: “I am not in a great shape as for now, I still need time to roll into the play. Moreover, the ball has changed, which needs time to get used to. I have played against this opponent only once before, I know that she ius left-handed, and my performance was not very different from what I did in the previous match with her. I noticed that she can hardly take spins and slices, so I combined this information with what my coach told me in the timeout. He said that I should attack more. In the fifth set I was leading 8:4 but lost it, here's where the struggle started.”
Christina KALLBERG of Sweden was under severe pressure in the match against Dragana VIGNJEVIC of Serbia 4:3. “I lost three games in a row, because my adversary was very strong and she did not miss. I decided to change tactics at 1:3 and slowed down the game, which helped me dramatically. In the last set I was leading 7-0 when a little nervousness came, but then I felt relaxed and finished the match,” said Swede.
Veronica MOSCONI, the leader in Group 7, failed to justified her status. Andrea PAVLOVIC of Croatia upset the order. “I had to stay focused during the game. Each set was close. I played many balls in the table, but then decided to attack more and put more pressure on MOSCONI, which was a right decision. I was active in this match and I can say it was good for me.”
Despite late arrival in Minsk Sabina SURJAN of Serbia recorded bot wins in two opening rounds.
“This game was hard. I think my adversary has not practiced enough for this match. Normally, she’s a strong player, she played very well, but then she had some problems. First three games were fine, but the fourth one became a real challenge for me,” said SURJAN.