World Championships | 21 Feb 2024

France, Germany and Romania reached quarters in Busan

In the quarterfinals of the ITTF World Team Championships 2024 in Busan, China will meet Korea, France will play against Germany, Taipei will meet Hong Kong, and Japan will play against Romania.

In the Round of 16, Romania prevailed against Egypt in straight matches, with Bernadette SZOCS beating Hana GODA, Elizabeta SAMARA prevailing against Dina MESHREF, and Adina DIACONU overcoming Yoursa HELMY.

Adina DIACONOU (ROU): “It was a very intense match as we expected, we played against Egypt, who are very good players who fight for every match. We took it very seriously and of course we were stressed a little bit because it was the qualification for the Olympics. Now we are very happy because this was our main goal, to qualify for Paris. Now of course we are going for the medal. We will prepare good for the next match. I feel very good in this team, the atmosphere is very good.”

France also needed three matches to secure their place in the quarters. Jia Nan YUAN, Prithika PAVADE, and Charlotte LUTZ overcame Fu YU, Jieni SHAO, and Matilde PINTO.

Charlotte LUTZ stated, "Even though we are already qualified for the Olympics since it's going to be held in our country, I'm really proud of my team because two years ago we lost in the round of 16 against Slovakia. This year, our first goal was to top the group stage, then advance to the round of 16, and now the quarterfinals. So, now we really want the medals, and we want to make history. We'll never relax and go for tomorrow! We'll take a rest tonight because it's been a tough match, even if we won 3-0, and then go back to training tomorrow to make history!"

Germany also showed no mercy against Sweden. Xiaona SHAN, Nina MITTELHAM, and Sabine WINTER beat Linda BERGSTROM, Cristina KALLBERG, and Filippa BERGAND. Only KALLBERG put pressure on MITTELHAM and forced her to go the full distance.

"Before the World Championships, we set the goal of reaching the quarterfinals, but once you're there, you naturally want to win," said 27-year-old Nina MITTELHAM. "We were a bit lucky with the draw. But my personal goal was to compete for a medal here from the start. I hope that in the end, like two years ago, we can fly home with a medal. It was a great feeling that I would like to experience again." In Chengdu, China, the German team won bronze in 2022.

The most hard-fought match was between MITTELHAM, the 2022 European Championship finalist, and Christina KÄLLBERG. Sweden's number two secured the first game and, in the fourth set, scored five consecutive points against MITTELHAM'S three match points to tie the set at 2-2. The fifth game was then a clear affair for Germany's leading player in the Busan Exhibition & Convention Center.

"It was a good team effort, with 'Nana' putting us ahead. That helped me a lot because I was very nervous," admitted MITTELHAM, who lost to KÄLLBERG at the European Games last year. Today it was difficult for her to focus on her own match. "You naturally have in mind which games are going on next to you and what it can mean if you win or lose."

The women's quarterfinals are scheduled for Thursday.

"The French team is tough. They are a good team," said Sabine WINTER, who has already won Team World Championship bronze twice. "I expect a close match, where we will fight for every ball, and hopefully, with our team, we will come out as winners."

Previously, in the Round of 32, Croatia, ranked only 41st in the world, defeated Malaysia (28) to reach the Round of 16. With two wins, Hana ARAPOVIC was the backbone of the team’s success, together with Lea RAKOVEC, who also posted one win. In the next match, they lost to Japan.

"No one expected us to reach this far. We had a slow start with a defeat against Ukraine, but then we beat Czechia 3-0, which was a big upset. We continued our success by defeating France again in straight matches. Against Malaysia, which had previously beaten Italy, we just rode the wave of success and reached the Round of 16. In the end, Japan proved too strong for us. Our team spirit carried us to these great results," said 19-year-old ARAPOVIC, who played in her first World Championships in Busan.