The group stage always brings some unexpected results and this year’s tournament was no exception. Sure, world ranking position is not always an objective measure of a player’s current state but in most cases, it gives some clarity who can be considered a favorite. And there were few ones that definitely did not expect to end some of their games with a loss.
The experienced 30-year old Finnish champion Benedek Olah (World Ranked 85) faced the 32-year old Ukrainian Viktor Yefimov (WR 373). Ukrainian managed to take the first two sets but Olah was keen to make a comeback. He did it to an extent. The winner had to be decided in the fifth set and it turned out to be a close one. However, Yefimov did his job and secured a 3-2 win.
3-2 was the end result in some of the others group stage games. What a debut it was for the 15-year old Polish sensation Milosz Redzimski (was not even world ranked), who earned a win against the German Bundesliga hardened Greek Ioannis Sgouropoulos (WR 147), winning the fifth set 11-5. The 21-year old Slovakian player Jakub Zelinka (WR 643) is also worth mentioning with his win over the experienced Ukrainian Yevhen Pryschepa (WR 111) It was also a memorable run for the Moldavian talent Vladislav Ursu (WR 531), who got a win against the Belgium’s Florent Lambiet (WR 104). This win helped him to advance to the knockout round and after winning the Frenchman Can Akkuzu, Ursu advanced to the 1/16 final where his journey ended with a 1-4 loss to Patrick Franziska.
There was also a surprising result in the qualification stage of the doubles event. The 43-year old Estonian player Vallot Vainula (WR 647) and 33-year old Latvian Artūrs Reinholds (WR 926) got an unexpected 3-1 win over the experienced defenders Panagiotis Gionis and Wang Yang. Both of them are TOP 50 players in the world.
In the knockout stage, there were some exciting stories. The main was the surprising win of the young Russian duo Lev Katsman & Maksim Grebnev in the doubles events. On the way to the final, Russians overcame the Swedish pairing of Mattias Falck & Kristian Karlsson in a hard-fought five set game. In the 1/4 finals, they got past Dang Qiu & Benedikt Duda (3-1) and in semi-finals, Russians outplayed the another surprising medal winners of this tournament – the Hungarians Adam Szudi & Nandor Ecseki 3-2. The final challenge was to beat the international pairing of the Polish player Jakub Dyjas, who had his second European finals appearance and the Belgian Cedric Nuytinck, who won his first European Championships medal in Warsaw. In a 4-set showdown, Katsman and Grebnev got a 3-1 win, and could let their emotions go! These two definitely have a great future ahead of them.
In the mixed doubles event, the Germans had their final word. Dang Qiu and Nina Mittelham got a solid 3-0 win in the finals against the Slovak pair of experienced Lubomir Pistej and Barbaba Balazova. The experienced French players Simon Gauzy and Emmanuel Lebesson added bronze medals to their collection in this event.
The knockout stage of the singles events brought some slightly surprising results, like the win of Hunor Szocs over the experienced Austrian Daniel Habesohn 4-2 or the 4-0 win of Lubomir Jančarik over Simon Gauzy. However, the finalists – experienced Germans Timo Boll and Dimitrij Ovtcharov were surely expected faces to be seen in the gold medal meeting. Boll’s road to the finals was relatively smooth, expect the 1/8 finals match up against his compatriot Benedikt Duda. This turned out to be an intense seven set match. Eventually experience took it over and Boll advanced to the next round, where he got a solid 4-1 win over his Borussia teammate Anton Källberg. In the semi-final, German legend overcame the Swedish hope Mattias Falck 4-2.
Ovtcharov’s journey to the final was a bit tougher. Especially the 1/4 final game against Lubomir Jančarik. The Czech did not had any luck in the first three sets and Ovtcharov had a solid 3-0 lead. However, Jančarik managed to slowly turn the course of the game. He recovered one set after another and soon the result was 3-3. The final set was full of nerves and emotions! Ovtcharov eventually managed to keep himself calm and get this important win on his way to the final. 4-3! Definitely, this was one of the most exciting games of this tournament.
The final was a meeting of two highest quality players with great experience and mutual knowledge. Both represent Germany and have gone through many battles together. Still, the experience of Timo Boll turned out to be more valuable. 40-year old German legend got a 4-1 win and this secured his 8th singles title in his long journey the European Championships. Boll won his first European medal back in 2000! What a career it has been for Timo, he has won a total of 20 gold medals in the European Championships in singles, doubles & team events. Legendary!
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