(by Steve Hopkins)
Munich is host to the European Championships this week, and only the Finals remain to be played. Top seed Truls Moregard fell to Mattias Falck leaving Darko Jorgic as the top ranked player remaining. Jorgic will face Dang Qiu, Germany’s 25 year old penholder – who is quickly rising in the rankings.
A changing of the guard seems to be occurring in Germany – as four Germans are closely bunched together in the rankings (Ovtcharov at 9, Franziska at 12, Qiu at 13, and Boll at 14), but Dima and Timo, who have both been No.1 in the past and who have both battled injuries more recently, seem to be on the decline while 30 year old Patrick Franziska and 25 year old Dang Qiu appear to finally be getting their chance to lead. All four of these Germans reached the Round of 16. Franziska fell (to Apolonia 4-2) and was the only one not to advance. Both Ovtcharov and Boll reached the Quarterfinals – and in this strong field, that is no small feat, but both ended their run in that round today. The headline for Germany is Dang Qiu – who dominated Timo Boll to reach the Semifinal. Boll was up 7-4 in the first game before Qiu mounted a comeback to win 7 straight points for an 11-7 first game victory. Boll never led again – losing the first point of each game, and hardly mounting a defense and Qiu dominated every aspect of the games, pressing the pace, mixing up the service returns, winning easy points off of lightning fast attacks, and winning most of the long rallies.
Qiu’s Semifinal matchup was Mattias Falck – and the while some of the games were tight, Qiu dominated again. Falck had a solid tournament, and took out Truls Moregardh to reach the Semis- but there was not a time in the match against Qiu where the outcome was in question. Qui won the first game easily, closed out the second and third games (both were tight near the end) with late runs, lost the fourth game, and closed out the match in the fifth. A 4-1 win over another well-known player to reach to Final.
Mixed results for Sweden – as Sweden and Germany jockey to be the best National Team in Europe. Kristian Karlsson took out Germany’s top player, Dimitrij Ovtcharov in the Quarterfinals – but then fell to Jorgic. That is, both Sweden and Germany brought 3 players to the Final 8, and both Sweden and Germany had 2 players advance to the Final 4 – but only Germany sent one of their players to the Final. Qiu will face Slovenia’s Darko Jorgic on Sunday for the European Title. Qiu should be back in the World Top 10 in the next rankings – jumping past Franziska in the rankings (and getting very close to passing Ovtcharov to be Germany’s top ranked player). Jorgic continues to move up in the Rankings, and will likely reach No. 7 next week.
In the Women’s Singles Event, three Germans advanced to the Semifinals. Sabine Winter fell to Sofia Polcanova of Austria, while Nina Mittelham topped Xiaona Shan. Mittelham will face Polcanova in the Final tomorrow.
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