Dimitrij OVTCHAROV (GER) and LI Jie (NED) are the 2017 ITTF-Europe Top 16 Cup champions after their victories in Antibes, France on Sunday 5 February 2017.

With their victories, the duo secured their place at the upcoming ITTF World Cups together with the silver and bronze medalists.

OVTCHAROV’s victory ensured that he became the first player in the 47-year history of the tournament to win the event on three consecutive occasions following his victories in Russia and Portugal.

In the final, the top seed beat Russia’s Alexander SHIBAEV, the no.14 seed, to write his name into the history books (11-8, 12-14, 11-5, 11-13, 11-8, 11-8).

The world number six stated after his historic victory: “I am happy to win the Europe Top 16, for me it was the first tournament in 2017. It gives some good confidence for the World Championships in Dusseldorf. Apart from that, it was also one of my best performances for several months; for me it had a good outcome. I practiced in January for several weeks in a row at home in Dusseldorf, that was important. In the final I could have played better in the second, fourth and sixth games; so I am not fully satisfied with the performance. In general I am please”

A place in the final means an invitation to the Liebherr 2017 Men’s World Cup to be held later in the year in Liege, Belguim on 20-22 October; it also means a guaranteed invitation for Frenchman, Simon Gauzy who claimed bronze against the no.12 seed KOU Lei (UKR) 4-0 (11-6, 11-3, 11-9, 16-14).

The women’s final was less of a spectacle than the men’s final, with Petrissa SOLJA withdrawing due to injury in the sixth game after being down 1-3. The Rio 2016 team silver medallist eventually surrendered the match 1-4 (7-11, 11-7, 3-11, 6-11, 0-11) to hand LI Jie her first major European title after being defeated in the 2012 final.

After her career defining victory, the Dutch women stated: “I’m very happy but I’m also very sorry for SOLJA. It was my third time in a major European final and finally I’ve won, so I’m very happy. For my career and my future the title is important for self-confidence, I don’t think so much about future tournaments.”, Li Jie

Together with the finalists LI & SOLJA, Sabrine WINTER (GER) who claimed bronze over Austria’s LIU Jia, booked their place to the upcoming ITTF Women’s World Cup to be held in Markham, Canada on 27-29 October 2017.

The ITTF World Cups are the second most prestigious events on the international table tennis calendar, with only 20 of the top table tennis players qualifying through their respective Continental Cups together with the current World Champions, one host player and a wildcard.

The next continental qualification for the ITTF World Cup’s is the ITTF-Oceania Cup on 15-16 April 2017 in Fiji.

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