Winners one year ago of the Women’s Team event in Luxembourg, at the current Liebherr 2018 ITTF European Championships in Alicante, Romanian focus was very much on their female players; when play closed on the penultimate day of action, Saturday 22nd September, all had departed proceedings, there was not a medal in sight.
To the rescue came their male counterpart, to the rescue came Ovidiu Ionescu.
Winner of the Under 21 Men’s Singles title on the ITTF World Tour in 2009 in Kuwait, when he beat Egypt’s Mohamed El-Beiali in the final but since that date no such accolades to his name; regarded somewhat of a dangerous player, one of whom to be aware, at the quarter-final stage of the Men’s Singles event in Alicante he proved, he is a most dangerous player.
Occupying the no.25 seeded spot, now 29 years old, he beat Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus, the no.9 seed in a seven games duel determined by the very minimal two point margin in the deciding game (11-7, 8-11, 10-12, 15-13, 13-11, 6-11, 11-9). Moreover, Vladimir Samsonov was in form, notably one round earlier, he had ended the hopes of Germany’s Dimitrij Ovtcharov, the no.2 seed (9-11, 11-5, 11-9, 5-11, 11-5, 11-5).
Success for Ovidiu Ionescu against the odds, at the same time, Sweden’s Kristian Karlsson upset the seeding; the no.8 seed, he beat Portugal’s Marcos Freitas, the no.4 seed, the runner up in 2015 in Ekaterinburg (11-8, 5-11, 11-9, 11-5, 10-12, 6-11, 11-8).
Wins contrary to expectations, in the two remaining quarter-final Men’s Singles contests that had taken place earlier in the evening, the outcomes were as status advised; Germany being in the ascendancy.
Timo Boll, the top seed, set the example, he beat Austria’s Daniel Habesohn, the no.13 seed, in four straight games (11-3, 11-4, 11-4, 11-9); similarly, impressive, in one game more Patrick Franziska, the no.5 seed, overcame colleague Benedikt Duda, the no.18 seed (11-7, 11-3, 7-11, 11-5, 11-9).
The wins recorded by Timo Boll and Patrick Franziska mean that Germany is guaranteed a place in the final; the two meet in the penultimate round. In the opposite half of the draw Kristian Karlsson faces Ovidiu Ionescu.
Play in Alicante concludes on Sunday 23rd September.