|By: Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor|
Kalinikos Kreanga of Greece and Li Jiao of the Netherlands won the respective Men’s and Women’s Singles titles at the Europe Top Twelve tournament, which concluded in the Belgian city of Liège, on Sunday 7th January 2011.
It was for Kalinikos Kreanga, always a dangerous adversary with his expansive and uninhibited style of play, a first ever win in the tournament in eleven appearances; his first being in 1996 also in Belgium when the tournament was held in Charleroi.
Meanwhile, for Li Jiao, the record is more impressive, it was her fourth win in seven appearances, she made her debut in the French city of Rennes in 2005.
Denied Fifth Title
However, Vladimir Samsonov did set two records for the tournament, one of which may be quite proud, the other he may well want to forget.
In Liège it was his 16th appearance in the Europe Top Twelve, it was also the 12th time he had reached the final of the Men’s Singles event; no player, man nor woman has reached more finals, the nearest being Sweden’s Jan-Ove Waldner who reached eleven.
Runner Up Again
He has now finished in runners up spot on no less than eight occasions, including the most recent four appearances!
Ahead of the Field
Jan-Ove Waldner finished in second place on four occasions but he did win seven times; whilst fo the women the leading runner up is Bettine Vriesekoop of the Netherlands. She finished in the silver position on five occasions, winning once.
Kalinikos Kreanga had to rely on games ratio to qualify for the second stage. In the first phase of matches he lost to Russia’s Alexei Smirnov in five games, the margin by which he beat Austria’s Chen Weixing who defeated Alexei Smirnov in six games.
Alexei Smirnov thus won the group with Kalinikos Kreanga in second spot and Chen Weixing eliminated.
Similar to Kalinikos Kreanga, Vladimir Samsonov had suffered first day blues.
He lost to Romania’s Adrian Crisan in six games before beating Austria’ Robert Gardos in five games who, in turn, overcame Adrian Crisan in six games; thus the end result was first place for Vladimir Samsonov with Adrian Crisan in second spot and Robert Gardos, a tourist.
Meanwhile in the second phase of proceedings, Li Jiao accounted for Poland’s Li Qian (6-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-9, 11-4) and Spain’s Shen Yanfei (11-8, 11-6, 11-7, 11-4) en her way to the final showdown with Viktoria Pavlovich; the Belarus player beating Germany’s Kristin Silbereisen (11-9, 3-11, 12-10, 11-8, 5-11, 13-11) and Turkey’s Hu Melek (11-5, 13-15, 8-11, 11-5, 14-16, 11-4, 12-10) in her respective quarter and semi-final duels.
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