Partnerships tried and trusted, both having enjoyed notable success on the international scene; seniority prevailed in the final of the Men’s Doubles event at the Liebherr 2018 ITTF European Championships in the Spanish resort of Alicante on Sunday 23rd September.
Robert Gardos, now 39 years old in partnership with his seven years younger Austrian colleague, Daniel Habeshon emerged successful; at the final hurdle they accounted for the 27 year old Swedes, Mattias Falck and Kristian Karlsson in five games (11-9, 6-11, 11-4, 11-9, 11-9).
Furthermore the Austrians upset the pecking order and repeated the success of six years earlier when they had beaten the Swedes in the final in 2012 in Herning; in Alicante they commenced play as the no.4 seeds, Mattias Falck and Kristian Karlsson occupied the no.2 seeded position.
“It is great feeling to win the title again; especially since we lost in the first round last time in Budapest. This time we did not take any risks. Robert came from Spain to work with me for a week. We had very good preparations and it paid off. It has been a long tournament.” Daniel Habesohn
Success for Robert Gardos and Daniel Habesohn means they now line up alongside the most illustrious pairs in the history of the competition, first staged 60 years ago in Budapest.
In Alicante it was their fourth appearance in a European Championships Men’s Doubles final, in addition to the win in Herning, in consecutive editions of the tournament, they were runners up in Schwechat in 2013, losing to the combination of Croatia’s Tan Ruiwi and Poland’s Wang Zengyi, before in 2015 in Ekaterinburg, experiencing the same fate when opposing colleague, Stefan Fegerl who teamed with Portugal’s João Monteiro
“This time Daniel was tired and we did not want to repeat what happened in 2015; we lost after failed to take advantage of a match point. Our thinking was not good. Before this final we just said: “we have to win”. There can be no excuses.” Robert Gardos
They join Zoran Kalinic and Dragutin Surbek as pairs who have won the title on two occasions. In the days of the country known as Yugoslavia, they won in 1982 in Budapest and in 1984 in Moscow.
Also they draw level with Sweden’s Hans Alser and Kjell Johansson. They also appeared in four Men’s Doubles finals; however, Robert Gardos and Daniel Habesohn can argue that their record is superior. The legendary Swedes won in London in 1966 but in 1964 in Malmö, as in 1968 in Lyon and 1970 in Moscow they had to settle for runners up spot.
Four European Men’s Doubles finals; the only other partnership to achieve the feat is that of Germany’s Timo Boll and Christian Süss. They reached four consecutive title deciding contests being present commencing in 2007 in Belgrade and concluding in 2010 in Ostrava. Notably they held an advantage over Robert Gardos and Daniel Habesohn in that the tournament in that era was held on an annually not as now on a biennial basis.
Nevertheless, whatever the comparison, the record of Robert Gardos and Daniel Habesohn stands tall, once again finalists, moreover once again European champions.