Tiago Apolonia Flies Flag for Portugal - Butterfly Table Tennis
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Tiago Apolonia Flies Flag for Portugal – Photo By: Rita Tarboda

Tiago Apolonia Flies Flag for Portugal

Tiago Apolonia Flies Flag for Portugal, Defeats for Marcos Freitas and João Monteiro
2016 Europe Top 16: February 5th – 7th in Gondomar, Portugal
Courtesy of ITTF

Defeats for Marcos Freitas and João Monteiro; it was Tiago Apolonia who flew the flag for the host nation in the opening series of encounters in the Men’s event at the 2016 ITTF-Europe Top 16 tournament in Gondomar, Portugal on the morning of Friday February 5th.

In a full distance five games duel, the no.8 seed, he beat Germany’s Ruwen Filus, the no.13 seed (11-9, 11-8, 6-11, 9-11, 11-8); the win coming after João Monteiro, the no.15 seed, had been beaten by Panagiotis Gionis of Greece, the no.5 seed, by the very narrowest of margins (6-11, 11-9, 6-11, 11-5, 13-11) and Marcos Freitas had suffered a somewhat surprise defeat.

The no.3 seed, after securing the first two games, he suffered defeat in a full distance duel by Germany’s Bastian Steger, the no.12 seed (8-11-7-11, 11-7, 11-7, 11-7).

Time to Adjust
“Players with a defensive style need time to adjust when playing in a new hall; it takes them more time than others”, said Tiago Apolonia after beating Ruwen Filus.

“That is why I had an easy two-nil lead”, added Tiago Apolonia. “However, it was only a matter of time before Filus found his game and right rhythm, I was expecting that too; he raised his game and came back to game stronger in the closing stages.”

Defense Prevails
Success for the attacking style against the defensive art; for João Monteiro it was the reverse scenario but like Ruwen Filus, Panagiotis Gionis needed time to acclimatize.

“It was not good start for me but eventually I settled into the right rhythm”, said Panagiotis Gionis. “I had to lift my game to play at the higher level, I think I was more confident and had more patience, which helped me in closing stages when it was really close; last year Joao beat me in the group stages in Baku.”

On that occasion João Monteiro had won in four games (5-11, 11-7, 11-7, 13-11).

A slow start by Panagiotis Gionis; it was the same from Bastian Steger who lost the first two games against Marcos Freitas.

“I was not very bad at the beginning but Marcos played at top level”, explained Bastian Steger. “I had to wait for him to make some errors on his service, as the match progressed, my receive improved, eventually all was perfect.”

Top Seed Succeeds
Success for Bastian Steger, there was also success for colleague, Dimitrij Ovtcharov, who is in the same group as Panagiotis Gionis and João Monteiro.

Kristian Karlsson
The top seed, he beat Frenchman, Simon Gauzy, the no.9 seed (11-8, 11-4, 14-12).

Meanwhile, in the same group as Marcos Freitas and Bastian Steger, Sweden’s Kristian Karlsson, the no.14 seed, caused somewhat of an upset by beating Austria’s Robert Gardos, the no.7 seed (11-6, 11-7, 11-7).

“Three months ago I beat Gardos in the French league, it was my first victory in five encounters; it gave me confidence for my match today”, said Kristian Karlsson. “It is much easier to have in the back of your mind that you have already beaten someone than to come with a five-nil loss record; when you play against Gardos, the most important part is the service and return game, I was strong in that part today.”

Favorites Prevail
An unexpected win for Kristian Karlsson; in the remaining matches in the first series of the itinerary, it was success for the higher rated player.

Competing in the same group as Tiago Apolonia and Ruwen Filus, Croatia’s Andrej Gacina accounted for Russia’s Alexander Shibaev, the no.10 seed (8-11, 12-10, 11-9, 11-7).

Vladimir Samsonov and Stefan Fegerl
Meanwhile, in the one remaining group, Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus, the no.2 seed, defeated Sweden’s Pär Gerell, the no.11 seed (11-5, 11-9, 7-11, 11-7); Austria’s Stefan Fegerl defeated Frenchman, Adrien Mattenet, the no.16 seed (11-9, 11-5, 11-9).

“Judging by the result it seems easy but two games concluded by narrow margin; I was down twice in the match; in the first game after being ahead 8-3, I was down 8-9, and then in the third game it was 9-7 for Adrien”, said Stefan Fegerl. “If he had won even one game, it would have been a completely different match; fortunately I kept the game under control.”

Second Series
The second series of matches in the first stage of the Men’s event continues later in the day at 4:00pm (local time).

Visit the 2016 ITTF Europe Top 16 competition page for results and more.

Watch Table 1 & Table 2 Matches Live on LAOLA1.tv.

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