Second day of table tennis competition during European Kraków Kraków – Małopolska 2023 was an eventful affair. There were not many major surprises, favorites won on most occasions and some great matches were played. More to come tomorrow when among others mixed doubles semi-finals will take place.
First of all mixed doubles competition which will be decided on Monday – the winner will get their pass to Paris Olympic tournament. First semis will be played tomorrow, on Sunday. Alvaro ROBLES and Maria XIAO will take on Danq Qiu and Nina Mittelham of Germany. Today Spain’s pair managed to overcome Serbia’s Dimitrije LEVAJAC and Izabela LUPULESKU in a close five-game contest.
“LEVAJAC and LUPULESKU played at their highest level until the very last point. It was not easy for us to find our rhythm against them. That’s why I believe the key to our success was maintaining a positive spirit after losing the opening game. We were in a difficult position in the first game and throughout the second, but we never gave up. We stayed focused and fought for every ball” – said ROBLES.
Nandor ECSEKI and Dora MADARASZ of Hungary will play Romania’s Ovidiu IONESCU and Bernardette SZOCS in last four. The latter pair defeated Robert GARDOS and Sofia POLCANOVA of Austria in four games.
“We have been playing together for a long time, and I know how to reach and calm him in tough situations. Ovidiu is a very sensitive person, so our friendship is a crucial part of our success. Last time, we won silver in Minsk, and now I hope for gold” stated SZOCS.
The morning session was highlighted by the departure of the 10th seed, Joao GERALDO of Portugal. Geraldo was defeated by the 30th seed, Cedric NUYTINCK of Belgium, who managed to come back from a three-game deficit to win four consecutive games!
The first person to approach NUYTINCK to celebrate his victory was Dane Anders LIND. LIND defeated Yaroslav ZHMUDENKO of Ukraine.
“I came from the WTT Contender in Nigeria with a Salmonella infection. I had a fever of 40 degrees Celsius for one day, and it remained at 39 degrees for the following three days. I also lost some weight. So, physically, I am far from being in good shape, but mentally, I am determined, and that was the key to my success today” said LIND.
The fourth seed, Darko JORGIC of Slovenia, faced a challenging start against Ovidiu IONESCU of Romania but managed to come out victorious in six closely contested games. Jorgic said this tournament in Kraków in on the level of European Championship or even higher.
“I am aiming for medals, maybe even gold” – added the current European vice-champion.
There was a surprise in women’s singles tournament too.
The 31st seed, Solomiya BRATEYKO of Ukraine, emerged victorious against the 15th seed, Tatiana KUKULKOVA of Slovakia, with a score of 4-1.
“I expected a much tougher match. Her pimples are very dangerous, and I am not very comfortable playing against her style. However, everything went smoothly in the first three games. That’s why I started to get a bit worried that they came too easily. Consequently, I lost the fourth game but managed to remain calm and focused on the next ball rather than the result” said the ukrainian player.
Top seeded HAN Yang of Germany moved to the Round of 16 without due alarm. In the Round of 32 match HAN prevailed against Italy’s Giorgia PICCOLIN 4-0.
“I am satisfied, I played relatively relaxed. I manage to do that much more often than before. In past I was often very tense. I expect a defence-versus-defence match against Linda BERGSTRÖM in the round of 16. That’s not easy, but I’m very confident” said the German.
There was some consolation for polish hosts at last. Poland’s players lost all four games on first day of competition but Natalia BAJOR won its single match and will meet European champion Austria’s Sofia POLCANOVA tomorrow in last 16.
Table tennis tournament will last until July 1st at Hutnik Arena in Kraków.