The postponed European Table Tennis Championships will finally start in Warsaw, with the continent’s top stars hoping for a strong tournament as part of their final preparations for Tokyo 2020.
The European Table Tennis Union postponed the event last August due to an increase in COVID-19 cases in host country Poland and increased travel restrictions.
The tournament was originally scheduled to take place from September 15 to 20.
With the European Championships being held a month prior to Tokyo 2020, it is an opportunity for players to test their form ahead of the Olympics.
Swede Mattias Falck enters the event as the top-ranked player in the men’s draw, thanks to his number eight in the world rankings.
The silver medalist of the 2019 World Championship is aiming for a first European title at the Arena COS Torwar.
German stars Dimitrij Ovtcharov and Timo Boll are among his main challengers for the title.
Ovtcharov has been crowned European Champion twice, while Boll has won the event seven times, including the last edition in 2019.
“Purely from a training point of view, I have certainly never been better prepared for tournaments – that applies to both the European Championship and the Olympic Games,” said Ovtcharov.
“Even though the Olympics are always ubiquitous, I see the European Championship as an important tournament in itself and not just as preparation.
“It is the biggest continental tournament and very prestigious.
“But of course everything is different this time: after that there is no break and the Olympic preparation continues immediately.”
Germany’s Patrick Franziska, Frances Simon Gauzy and Austria’s Robert Gardos are also among the top tiers for men’s singles.
Austria’s Sofia Polcanova is the best placed player in women’s singles.
The number 17 in the world could face competition from Germany’s Petrissa Solja and Han Ying.
The Romanians Bernadette Szocs and Elizabeta Samara hope to participate in the final stages, along with the Dutchman Bitt Eerland and the Ukrainians Margaryta Pesotska.
Defending champion Li Qian from Poland will miss the event due to injury.
Germany Qiu Dang and Benedikt Duda lead the men’s doubles field, ahead of teammates Franziska and Boll.
Slovakian Barbora Balazova and Czech Hana Matelova lead the women’s doubles, with the former also leading the mixed doubles with Lubomir Pistej.
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