Europe Top-16 Cup | 26 Feb 2023

Darko JORGIC and HAN Ying defended their titles in Montreux

On the ultimate day of play at the CCB Europe Top 16 Cup Montreux 2023, Darko JORGIC of Slovenia and HAN Yang of Germany defended their titles. In the ultimate stage JORGIC beat QIU Dang of Germany. Bronze medalists are Liam PITCHFORD of England and Dimitrij OVTCHAROV of Germany. In the Women's final HAN overcame Sofia POLCANOVA of Austria, whilst SHAO Jieni of Portugal and Nina MITTELHAM of Germany clinched bronze medals.

Darko became the 13th player and the 5th man to retain the title. HAN Ying wins two titles in a row and she was the 12th player and the 8th woman to retain the title. They join Jan Ove WALDNER, Vladimir SAMSONOV, Dmitrij OVTCHAROV, Timo BOLL, Jill HAMMERSLEY, NI Xialian, Beatrix KISHAZI, LI Jiao, LIU Jia, Qianghong GÖTCH and Ann Christin HELLMAN.

OVTCHAROV (2015-2017), NI (1996-1998) and KISHAZI (1971-1973) won 3 in a row.

HAN Ying is now the oldest winner ever with 39 years and 10 months, breaking the record Timo BOLL set in 2020 when he won his 7th title at 38 years and 11 months.

Liam PITCHFORD is the first English player on the podium since Desmond DOUGLAS won the Top 12 in 1987 and the 3rd ever from England, joining Douglas and triple winner Jill HAMMERSLEY.



Darko JORGIC – QIU Dang 4:2 (11:8, 11:9, 13:11, 7:11, 5:11, 11:7)

In powerful, out-of-World and aggressive exchange of strokes Darko JORGIC overcame QIU Dang. “From the very first point I felt the game, the table, the ball. QIU started aggressively, but I responded well. I stretched the back muscle at 7:5, but with some medical help I managed to play. I was focused and I kept the control over the match,” said Darko.

HAN Ying – Sofia POLCANOVA 4:1 (11:5, 10:12, 11:3, 11:9, 11:5)
The final of the women's event brought clash between no. one and no. two as the seedings predicted. The winner, justified her status. HAN dominated the match.
“It was not easy. POLCANOVA knows to block well, so i had to be patient and to wait for her mistakes. She adjusted to my style and the rallies had gone longer and longer as the match progressed,” said HAN.

Photo: Rémy Gros


Darko JORGIC (Slovenia) – Dimitrij OVTCHAROV (Germany) 4:2 (8:11, 12:10, 12:10, 7:11, 11:4, 12:10)

Five times winner of the Top 16 event Dimitrij OVTCHAROV had a better start in the semifinal, but reigning champion Darko JORGIC was in no mood to relinquish the reigns. OVTCHAROV took an early control of the match, but from second game JORGIC responded and started to play more egressive.

“He was in charge at the start of the game thanks to his backhand service bombs. I did not feel well and I needed some time to find the answer to his services. He was very aggressive, but then I managed to find a way to attack; my service game improved and I played with much more variations on my backhand and forehand. As the match progressed the rallies become longer and longer. I adapted better to his game,” said JORGIC.

Photo: Rémy Gros

QIU Dang (Germany) – Liam PITCHFORD (England) 4:3 (6:11, 11:4, 11:5, 5:11, 11:5, 10:12, 11:8)

QIU Dang secured his first ever final in rather strange match against Liam PITCHFORD. Five games went from one side to another with the players wining their games in safe way. Only in two last game we saw close fight.

“I needed some time to adjust, but nevertheless it is very difficult to play against PITCHFORD. He is here in fine shape and he proved that he did not beat Truls MOREGARDH “by accident”. He is very dangerous and I gave my best to stop him control the game – with more or less success,” said QIU.


Photo: Rémy Gros

Nina MITTELHAM (Germany) – Sofia POLCANOVA (Austria) 3:4 (7:11, 12:10, 11:8, 7:11, 8:11, 11:9, 9:11)

The day commenced with the thrilling seven games match. In the first semifinal, 2021 champion Nina MITTELHAM stretched no. two seed Sofia POLCANOVA to full seven games, but in the big turn over in the last game, Austrian prevailed.

POLCANOVA dominated in the opening moments of the match.

“I won the opening game and had 5:0 in second, when my tendency to make experiments when I am leading came to picture. I become too passive and just waited for Nina to make mistake, but she had other ideas. In general ,in this match was nothing about tactics, but it was all about mental strength. We know each other so well, we know how the other player will play next ball, there is no mystery there,” said POLCANOVA.

In the seventh game MITTELHAM had 7:4, but then she become too passive and POLCANOVA recovered to win the match.

“I entered the arena this morning thinking how I am in the semifinal and that I already accomplished a big success. Then I remembered I was there three times before and I was always so angry on myself by not going further...At this level it is so difficult, your mind is under pressure, your body reacted on that. At some points my hand was not listening to me. It is difficult to explain, just you know what to do, but the body and the hand does not listen.”

Photo: Rémy Gros

HAN Ying (Germany) – SHAO Jieni (Portugal) 4:0 (11:5, 12:10, 11:4, 11:5)

Top seeded HAN Ying had superb start of her match against SHAO Jieni, but in the second game Portugal's player managed to put HAN on pressure.

“I played very well, but in the second game I lost my focus and allowed SHAO to take control. She is very good in blocking and I wanted to finish the game fast. That is why I stopped playing my game and started to be more aggressive. I attacked her, which worked in her favor this time. As soon as I went back to my usual style I was in control again,” said HAN.