Europe Top-16 Cup | 21 Jan 2024

Finals in Montreux: JORGIC vs. MÖREGÅRD and YUAN vs. POLCANOVA

Photo: Rémy Gros

In the final of the 2024 CCB Europe Top 16 Cup in Montreux Jia Nan YUAN of France will meet Sofia POLCANOVA of Austria and Truls MÖREGÅRD of Sweden will play again with Darko JORGIC of Slovenia, like two years ago.

Truls MÖREGÅRD - Alexis LEBRUN 4-1 (13-11, 11-9, 11-8, 3-11, 11-4)

The runner-up from 2022, Truls MÖREGÅRD, reached the final once again. In an atomic and powerful display, just a day after Alexis LEBRUN beat the No. 1 seed Felix LEBRUN, the Swede catapulted himself to the ultimate stage.

"It was crazy; it's always crazy to play against LEBRUN. The matches are always so tough. The two opening games could have gone either way, but I managed to win. I really wanted so much to win this match. It was felt in the last point how much I was determined ,” said MÖREGÅRD.

At first, LEBRUN had more success in their encounters.

“Now, we have played a lot of matches against each other. In two, at the beginnings, he beat me quite easily. However, I managed to find a way to play against him. Some of those tactics I used today, which he managed very well. Despite his response, I played so fantastically today that made me very powerful,” said MÖREGÅRD.

By the reaction after winning, everybody was sure how important this win was for the Swede.

“I am so motivated to play here in Montreux. I want to win here. It is a big tournament with a lot of prestige. I will give my best to get the trophy”

Photo: Rémy Gros

Darko JORGIC – Marcos FREITAS 4-0 (11-1, 11-3, 11-4, 11-4)

Reigning champion Darko JORGIC of Slovenia paved his way to the final in superb style. In the penultimate stage, he overcame Marcos FREITAS of Portugal in straight games.

“I was surprised yesterday by Marcos' win over Dang QIU, but it was just the continuation of very good results FREITAS had this year. He played fantastic at the European Games this summer, also has good results from the tournament, currently is at spot no. 18 in the Rankings, and I knew how difficult it would be. He beat me at European Games; he had 3-0, I recovered to 3-2, but he left me no chances, and I lost. It was the same in the quarterfinals of the tournament in Kazakhstan, where he beat me 3-0 without the chances. So, I knew that I have to be ready to play for each ball,” JORGIC praised his adversary.

For sure, JORGIC was determined not to repeat the previous failures.

“I am happy with how I played today. I was focused on each point. I was very good in the receive game, even more aggressive than himself. Yesterday it was clear that DANG was too passive, and he allowed FREITAS to be aggressive. I had to prevent that.”

JORGIC showed much more flow in the play and less stress compared to the previous day.

“It is always difficult to play on Saturday. You do not feel the venue enough, you are under pressure to defend the title and by doing so you are everyone's target. Everyone wants to beat you. However, when you survive the opening day, then you are on 'your' soil, you are more relaxed, and the game is better,” said JORGIC.

Photo: Rémy Gros

Bernadette SZOCS - Jia Nan YUAN 3-4 (11-7, 6-11, 11-8, 11-7, 9-11, 8-11, 9-11)

The ultimate day commenced with an upset and the departure of the no. one seed Bernadette SZOCS of Romania after a dramatic recovery by Jia Nan YUAN of France. The No. 4 seed YUAN was 1-3 in reverse before she rallied to win the penultimate stage.

“So many times before I lost to Bernadette, even when I was playing really well, that I did not have any illusions it would be easy. I tried not to think about the outcome because I did not want to put extra pressure. I just tried not to think,” said YUAN laughingly.

A passive approach in the opening stages favored SZOCS, and the 2019 winner was in the driver's seat with a 3-1 lead when YUAN changed tactics.

“I spoke with my coach, and he said it was a bad tactic; we have to change. I did, and also at the same time, I let everything go. I just cleared my mind and became much calmer. So many times I lost in the final stages of big events, and this victory makes me very happy,” said YUAN.

Photo: Rémy Gros

Nina MITTELHAM – Sofia POLCANOVA 1-4 (12-10, 4-11, 6-11, 6-11, 5-11)

For the second year in a row, Austria's Sofia POLCANOVA will play in the final of the CCB Europe Top 16 Cup. In the semis, the No. 2 seed overcame the 2021 winner, Nina MITTELHAM of Germany. Only the opening game produced a close contest; in the proceedings, the Austrian player dominated.

“In the opening game, I did not have good timing. Nina has a very different style compared to the other players. My receive at the beginning was not at the top level. What worsened the situation for me was the fact that Nina remembered and studied well my tactics from our last encounter, and she was well prepared for it,” said POLCANOVA.

After the close opening game, Sofia got the grip of the match and took over the control.

“From the second game, I changed the tactics. I put a lot of pressure on her and blocked her attacks, which are her main strength,” said POLCANOVA.

The finalists, Jia Nan YUAN and POLCANOVA, have never played against each other before.

For the first time since 2014, we have no Germans in the Top 16 finals. In 2014, the men's final was FREITAS - MAZE, and the women's final was LIU Jia - Viktoria PAVLOVICH. In the nine following years, there was at least one German in a final, and often more than one.