Winners some three weeks ago at the Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Czech Open in Olomouc, for Germany’s Patrick Franziska and Jonathan Groth, there will be no such accolade at the current Liebherr 2018 ITTF European Championships in Alicante.
The top seeds, they departed proceedings at the semi-final stage; furthermore, for the duo the pain was arguably even more acute, they were the defending champions. Notably, the defeat means that no title won in Budapest two years ago will be retained.
Patrick Franziska and Jonathan Groth experienced defeat at the hands of Austria’s Robert Gardos and Daniel Habesohn, the no.4 seeds and one of the most successful pairs in the history of the tournament. They won in 2012 in Herning; later in both 2013 in Schwechat and in 2015 in Ekaterinburg they were the runners up.
However, as play commenced, defeat rather than victory looked the more likely option; they lost the opening two games and then trailed three-one, before winning the next three to secure victory (8-11, 8-11, 11-8, 8-11, 11-6, 15-13, 11-2).
“It was very difficult at the beginning, because we did not know how to play against them. We had never met before and we needed time to read their game. Eventually, after being down three games to one, we learned what we have to do. We were mentally much stronger. Our confidence rose and they were very weak in that part. We easily sealed the match.” Robert Gardos
Success against the odds, in the counterpart semi-final it was success as status advised. Sweden’s Mattias Falck and Kristian Karlsson, the no.2 seeds, accounted for Germany’s Ruwen Filus and Ricardo Walther, the no.3 seeds. An impressive straight games win was the order of the day (11-7, 11-6, 11-9, 11-8).
“We were very confident in our play, and read their game very well. We made very few mistakes. We controlled their spins well.” Mattias Falck
Thus the final to be played on Sunday 23rd September will be a repeat of the 2012 final in Herning; the Swedes have a debt to settle; on that occasion in the title decider they lost to Robert Gardos and Daniel Habesohn.