An outstanding performance, a day to remember; there is a line of thought that the following day you will come down to earth with a severe bump. At the Liebherr 2018 ITTF European Championships in Alicante, Spain, Romania’s 29 year old Ovidiu Ionescu is on cloud nine.
The no.28 seed, on the early afternoon of Sunday 23rd September, he beat Sweden’s Kristian Karlsson, the no.11 seed (12-10, 11-6, 3-11, 11-9, 11-9) to reach the final of the Men’s Singles event; the win following success for Timo Boll, the top seed, in opposition to Patrick Franziska, the no.5 seed (8-11, 14-12, 9-11, 8-11, 11-9, 11-5, 11-7) in the all-German duel.
Unquestionably, it was a fine effort from Patrick Franziska, who is very much establishing himself as the third member of the national team behind Timo Boll and Dimitrij Ovtcharov. Furthermore, in Alicante, he gave his illustrious colleague a severe test. Leading three games to one, in the fourth he was in sight of victory, before the six times champion mounted a recovery.
“I gave too many easy balls, by being passive. At the beginning I let Patrick be more aggressive and he took the control; with his strong service and first ball it was very a dangerous position. I was not sufficiently confident, just waiting for his mistakes; that is why I had to change the tactics and to attack more.” Timo Boll
Impressive from Patrick Franziska but the star turn, as the previous day when he had beaten Denmark’s Jonathan Groth, the no.6 seed (20-18, 11-7, 5-11, 12-14, 11-8, 11-5) and then Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus, the no.9 seed (11-7, 8-11, 10-12, 15-13, 13-11, 6-11, 11-9), was Ovidiu Ionescu.
The five games success against Kristian Karlsson was not only against the odds in terms of world ranking, Kristian Karlsson is named at no.25 on the current list, Ovidiu Ionescu at no.59; on the international scene, it is the first time that Ovidiu Ionescu has beaten Kristian Karlsson!
On the ITTF World Tour, they met ten years ago in 2008 in Poland and in 2017 in the Korea Republic; in Men’s Team events, the were adversaries at the Liebherr 2015 European Championships in Ekaterinburg and most pertinently earlier this year in Halmstad at the Liebherr 2018 World Team Championships. Kristian Karlsson prevailed on all four occasions, notably on home soil in their most recent meeting in three straight games.
“Ten days ago, Kristian Karlsson was my nightmare. In ten matches he beat me seven times; then 10 days ago I beat him in the League. Everything changed. Before that I had knew I am done if I see him in the draw but then I finally made a break through. n the semis his backhand, which is usually lethal, was not that strong as usual. He is more aggressive usually. I seized the opportunity. It was first semi final of the European Championships for both of us so I guess we both were very nervous.” Ovidiu Ionescu
In Alicante it was a total reversal of fortunes in international meeting; such is sport, hit a hot streak and who knows what may happen; Timo Boll beware!