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European Championships: Lucky Number Seven for Boll

Euro Championships: Final Four

(by Steve Hopkins)

Germany and Sweden were dominant through the Finals 16 in Men’s Singles, but as the field narrowed, there are few surprises in the final four.   Top seed Mattias Falck, second seed Dimitrij Ovtcharov, and third seed Timo Boll are each in the Semifinals.  The only surprise to the seedings is that Portugal’s Marcos Frietas advanced – but he is World No. 25, and the other seeds he jumped over were all pretty tightly packed near him: Liam Pitchford (World No. 15), Patrick Franziska (World No. 16), and Simon Gauzy (World No. 19).  As luck would have it, Marcos didn’t have to face any of those players, and has maneuvered this far by defeating players beneath him in the rankings.

Freitas will face Dimitrij Ovtcharov Sunday in one Semifinal as Timo Boll and Mattias Falck play in the other.  The Men’s Final will be played Sunday evening.

On the women’s side, it will be Margaryta Pesotska of Ukraine against Xiona Shan of Germany in one Semifinal, and Petrissa Solja of Germany against Elizabeta Samar of Romania in the other.  Unlike the Men’s event where three of four are exactly by seed, the Women’s semis only have one top seed, Petrissa Solja (the second seed).  The other top seeds are out early.

Men’s Doubles provided some surprises, as two German pairs are listed in the ITTF Top 10, but neither pair made it to the Semifinals.  In fact, it is a Russian pair of Katsman and Grebnev that has made it to the Final by plowing through the first seeded Germany team and the fourth seeded Hungarian team.  They will face a mixed pair of Jakub Dyjas (Poland) and Cedric Nuytinck (Belgium).  Women’s doubles will be an all-German affair with the two German teams (neither in the ITTF’s Top 30 ranked teams) facing off.   Thoss teams are Mittelham/Winter and Solja/Shan.

Mixed Doubles has already concluded.  The top seed, Slovakia’s Lubomir Pistej and Barbora Balazova advanced to the final.  They faced a surprise German team of Dang Qiu and Nina Mittelham who upset both the No. 2 and No. 3 seeded teams along the way.  In fact it was Qiu and Mittelham who took the Final, dominating the top seeds 3-0.

Matches will continue on Sunday with finals in Men’s Singles, Women’s Singles, Men’s Doubles, and Women’s Doubles.

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