European Championships | 16 Sep 2023
2023 STUPA European Table Tennis Championships semi-finals
In the 2023 STUPA European Table Tennis Championships, defending champions Germany are set to face vice-champions Romania in the Women's Teams final on Sunday at 2 PM CET. Meanwhile, in the Men's final at 5.30 PM CET, reigning champions Germany will go up against the host nation, Sweden.
Live score here
Live streaming on ETTU.TV.
Sweden – France 3-1
In the frantic atmosphere created by 2,500 spectators in the Malmö Arena, Sweden secured their place in the final against Germany. The French team began the match with an altered lineup. At the very beginning, Felix LEBRUN faced Truls MOREGAARD, and France quickly took a 1-0 lead.
"My match against Felix LEBRUN was the toughest one I've had in the tournament so far. He found solutions that I couldn't respond to, but I've put that match behind me now," explained MOREGAARD.
Mattias FALCK returned to the game after a break yesterday. He faced the older LEBRUN brother, Alexis, in a full five-game match that ignited the packed stands to celebrate the win over Alexis.
Mattias FALCK then faced Jules ROLLAND and prevailed in three closely contested games. Felix LEBRUN was two games up before Truls MOREGAARD shifted into a higher gear and took control of the match.
"My start against Alexis Lebrun didn't go much better. In the first two games, I couldn't find a solution. What turned the match around for me was varying my serves, improving my returns, and adjusting my attacks a bit, while he lost some of his precision from the beginning. Our plan was to win two games against Alexis, and we managed to achieve that," added Truls.
Speaking of the fantastic support the team received in the Arena, MOREGAARD said: "I'm not sure if I would have won the last match without the support of the crowd."
Jörgen PERSSON added: "This means a lot to us, and we feel that we have the home crowd behind us."
Truls MOREGAARD - Felix LEBRUN 0-3 (8-11, 5-11, 7-11)
Mattias FALCK - Alexis LEBRUN 3-2 (11-13, 11- 6, 4-11, 11-6, 11-6)
Kristian KARLSSON – Jules ROLLAND 3-0 (12-10, 11-9, 11-8)
Truls MOREGAARD - Alexis LEBRUN 3-2 (6-11, 4-11, 11- 9, 11-9, 11-6)
Portugal – Germany 1-3
In the first Men's semi final, Germany secured a 3-1 victory against the Team that won European championships in 2014 and European Games title in 2015 - Portugal. Germany reached 17th final in history.
"It was a game at a very high level. My team has been improving from match to match in this tournament," said Coach HIELSCHER about the match against Portugal. "We are now where we wanted to be and we have to take the final step tomorrow."
Benedikt DUDA paved the way to victory right from the first game. DUDA managed to break the 16th-ranked player in the world, Marcos Freitas, who was 16 places ahead of him in the World rankings. After losing the first game in extra time, the 29-year-old player really hit his stride, securing many small points, but also holding his own in rallies and frequently playing dangerous angles against FREITAS. In the fourth game, Duda fought back from a 1-7 deficit and ultimately secured the lead for Team Germany with an 11-9 victory.
What followed was the re-break. Tiago APOLONIA, who had previously won only two of his encounters with Timo BOLL, was completely focused after losing the first game. The 37-year-old nine-time European Championship medalist, surprised the master of anticipation on several occasions with point-winning placements, an outstanding point rate from the backhand side, and remained unfazed by BOLL'S 9-3 lead in the fourth game. APOLONIA incredibly scored eight points in a row against the record European champion and former world No. 1 on his way back after a long injury break, leveling the match for his team.
Kay STUMPER, introduced into the game for the first time at this European Championship by Coach Lars HIELSCHER, ensured that the Portuguese joker did not succeed. The player positioned at three but normally second in the lineup and ranked 46th in the world, Joao GERALDO, managed to win the first two sets. However, after that, the 20-year-old found his stride in the tournament and got accustomed to his opponent's power play. STUMPER established comfortable leads at the start of each set and, despite the maximum pressure situation, maintained his composure and game overview, similar to his performances at the Team World Championships in Chengdu. It was left to Timo BOLL to secure a clear victory for his team in the semifinals by defeating his long-time rival Marcos FREITAS in three games.
"I felt more comfortable against Marcos' playing style. That went well again," explained BOLL. "Nevertheless, it was a big battle for me to reach my performance limit again. I'm working on it, and every match helps me in that regard."
Marcos FREITAS - Benedikt DUDA 1- 3 (14-12, 7-11, 6-11, 9-11)
Tiago APOLONIA – Timo BOLL 3-1 (6-11, 11-5, 11-9, 11-9)
Joao GERALDO – Kay STUMPER 2-3 (11-5, 11-8, 5-11, 5-11, 8-11)
Marcos FREITAS - Timo BOLL 0-3 (13-15, 3-11, 8-11)
Romania – France 3-1
For the third time in a row, in the penultimate stage of major European team events, Romania overcame France. In a rematch of the 2021 Cluj semi-final and the penultimate stage match at the European Games in Krakow, Romania counted on France on their way to the final.
Bernadette SZOCS prevailed against Prithika PAVADE in superb style (11-9, 11-6, 11-13, 11-7).
“I started well against PAVADE, but after 2-0, I made a few easy mistakes and allowed her to take the third game. I made errors I do not usually make, and I was angry at myself. However, I am feeling so good and I am in perfect shape, so it did not affect my overall result. I just felt I could not lose. I am ready for any adversary here,” said SZOCS.
Elizabeta SAMARA could not follow that, and it was YUAN Jia Nan who nullified Romania's lead equally strong, like SZOCS brings advantage to Romania. YUAN also dropped only one game to win the match (11-6, 11-13, 11-6, 11-3).
“It is difficult when you lose, but most important is that we have a good team and great team spirit. I hope I will lift my game to win one tomorrow,” said SAMARA. “I played last time against YUAN in Metz in 2016; I could not find the game for her today.”
In her first match in Malmö Arena, Adina DIACONU brought an important point to Romania. She overcame Audrey ZARIF to give her team a lead (7-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-5).
“I will not lie; it was very, very, very hard today. I felt immense pressure for being for the first time in the lineup for the match and at such an important stage of the Continental Championships after the result was 1-1 in the team match. I had to win that one, and I was under stress. It affected my opening game. I did not have a chance to feel the venue nor the table. The key was to calm down and to focus on my game. That is what I did from the second game,” said DIACONU. “We played many matches against each other, and I won many of them. The quality of my shots disturbed her. I was confident with my service, which allowed me to control rallies.”
Bernadette SZOCS overcame YUAN in straight games in Krakow earlier this summer, and she used the same recipe today in Malmö (11-8, 11-8, 5-11, 12-10).
“Like in the match against PAVADE, I started very well and established the early lead at 2-0. Unfortunately, again, I lost the third game. That made me really angry, but I managed to calm myself. I could not afford to be angry long against YUAN. She is the player with vast experience. I had to keep calm and focused,” said SZOCS.
The victory SZOCS achieved in Krakow still continues to pay off.
“Before the European Games, I never managed to beat her, but afterward, I overcame her four times. That is one more reason that I could not accept the scenario where I lost against YUAN here. I have the game for her. Even if I lose, it had to be because she played something new, not because I did not perform at my top level. When I am in top shape, YUAN cannot beat me; her game suits me, nothing disturbs me, especially,” concluded SZOCS.
Bernadette SZOCS - Prithika PAVADE 3-1 (11-9, 11-6, 11-13, 11-7)
Elizabeta SAMARA - YUAN Jia Nan 1-3 (6-11, 13-11, 6-11, 3-11)
Adina DIACONU - Audrey ZARIF 3-1 (7-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-5).
Bernadette SZOCS - YUAN Jia Nan 3-1 (11-8, 11-8, 5-11, 12-10)
Portugal - Germany 0-3
For the sixth time in the 65-year history of European Championships, Germany's women's team will face Romania. The semifinal against Portugal was once again a clear affair for the quintet led by coach Tamara BOROS. The rematch of the encounter two years ago in the semifinals ended with a comfortable 3-0 victory without dropping a set.
"We really wanted the duel with Romania because we want revenge for our loss at the European Games," says Tamara BOROS. "We need to play better than we did two months ago in Poland, but we are well-prepared."
In the opening match against Portugal, a highly focused Nina MITTELHAM dominated the game against Jieni SHAO after narrowly winning the first set. She placed her top spins effectively with strength in both attack and defense. Ying HAN'S defense against the European Games champion from 2019, Fu YU, was equally strong and versatile, with her increasing attacks finding their mark reliably. Thus, YU could only resign in the duel of the two top players of their teams after the first closely contested game. Xiaona SHAN, Germany's reliable player in the third position, had no problems as expected against the 18-year-old Ines MATOS. After an hour and ten minutes, the penultimate step on the defending champion's mission for gold was accomplished.
"Things went relatively well in the game. We won convincingly. I'm proud of the team for achieving this," said MITTELHAM, the European Championships finalist from Munich. "I went into the match feeling very relaxed, perhaps because I always have a good feeling when playing against Portugal and I feel very comfortable. The first set got close after a big lead, but after that, I didn't let anything slip away."
The match against Romania a little over two months ago in the final of the European Games in Krakow ended with a 2-3 defeat and gold for the team led by world No. 12 Bernadette Szöcs. In the European Championships final two years ago in Cluj, Romania, Team Germany had won 3-1.
"I'm looking forward to the final and also a bit that Romania is there. Maybe we can get revenge for the European Games," said MITTELHAM, describing, "Against Romania, the games are always close. We've lost a few times and won a few times. I don't think it will be 3-0 and 9-0, but I hope that we can leave the table as the happy winners in the end."
SHAO Jieni - Nina MITTELHAM 0-3 (14-16, 4-11, 5-11)
YU Fu - HAN Ying 0-3 (10-12, 2-11, 3-11)
Ines MATOS - SHAN Xiaona 0-3 (1-11, 6-11, 6-11)