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Ovtcharov and Li set gold standard

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The best Table Tennis images of Baku 2015

Table Tennis | Best of Baku 2015
Dimitrij Ovtcharov of Germany competes in the Table Tennis men's team's first round match against Carlos Machado of Spain. David Ramos/Getty Images
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 19: Jiao Li of the Netherlands competes against Melek Hu of Turkey in the Women's Table Tennis Semifinals during day seven of the Baku 2015 European Games at the Baku Sports Hall on June 19, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 14: Jie Li of Netherlands competes in the Women's Team Table Tennis quarter final match against Natalia Partyka of Poland during day two of the Baku 2015 European Games at Baku Sports Hall on June 14, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 15: Adrien Mattenet of France serves against Joao Geraldo of Portugal during the Men's Table Tennis Team Final on day three of the Baku 2015 European Games at Baku Sports Hall on June 15, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 19: Paul Drinkhall of Great Britain competes in the Men's Table Tennis Semifinals day seven of the Baku 2015 European Games at the Baku Sports Hall on June 19, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 15: Marcos Freitas of Portugal competes against Simon Gauzy of France in the Mens Table Tennis Team Final during day three of the Baku 2015 European Games at Baku Sports Hall on June 15, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 13: Linda Bergstrom of Sweden competes in the Women's Table Tennis first round match against Camelia Postoaca of Romania during day one of the Baku 2015 European Games at Baku Sports Hall on June 13, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 13: Xian Yifang and Li Xue of France compete in the Womens' Team Table Tennis First Round during day one of the Baku 2015 European Games at Baku Sports Hall on June 13, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 19: Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus competes in the Men's Table Tennis Finals during day seven of the Baku 2015 European Games at the Baku Sports Hall on June 19, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 14: Iveta Vacenovska of Czech Republic competes in the Women's Team Table Tennis quarter final match against Xue Li of France during day two of the Baku 2015 European Games at Baku Sports Hall on June 14, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 14: Xue Li of France serves in the Women's Team Table Tennis quarter final match against Iveta Vacenovska of Czech Republic during day two of the Baku 2015 European Games at Baku Sports Hall on June 14, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 13: Han Ying of Germany competes in the Womens' Team Table Tennis First Round during day one of the Baku 2015 European Games at Baku Sports Hall on June 13, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 13: Guliyeva Rufat and Shirinova Sharmin of Azerbaijan compete in the Womens' Team Table Tennis First Round during day one of the Baku 2015 European Games at Baku Sports Hall on June 13, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 15: Xiaona Shan of Germany competes in the Women's Team Table Tennis gold medal match against Jie Li of the Netherlands during day three of the Baku 2015 European Games at Baku Aquatics Centre on June 15, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 14: Stefan Fegerl of Austria competes in the Mens Team Table Tennis semi final against Joao Geraldo of Portugal during day two of the Baku 2015 European Games at Baku Sports Hall on June 14, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 14: Dimitrij Ovtcharov of Germany competes in the Men's Team Table Tennis semi final match against Emmanuel Lebesson of France during day two of the Baku 2015 European Games at Baku Sports Hall on June 14, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 14: Emmanuel Lebesson of France competes in the Men's Team Table Tennis semi final match against Dimitrij Ovtcharov of Germany during day two of the Baku 2015 European Games at Baku Sports Hall on June 14, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 14: Joao Geraldo of Portuga competes in the Mens Team Table Tennis semi final against Stefan Fegerl of Austria during day two of the Baku 2015 European Games at Baku Sports Hall on June 14, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 14: Jon Persson of Sweden competes in the Men's Team Table Tennis quarter final match against Timo Boll of Germany during day two of the Baku 2015 European Games at Baku Sports Hall on June 14, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 15: (L-R) Silver medalists Emmanuel Lebesson, Simon Gauzy and Adrien Mattenet of France pose during the medal ceremony for Men's Table Tennis Team Final on day three of the Baku 2015 European Games at Baku Sports Hall on June 15, 2015 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images for BEGOC)
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A review of Table Tennis at the Baku 2015 European Games

Portugal's men proved that they were the 'new kids on the block' in the Table Tennis world with a charge to team gold at the European Games, but it was the familiar and formidable form of Dimitrij Ovtcharov who hung tough to win the men's singles and with it a place at the Rio 2016 Olympics.

And in the women's competition, an expected team and singles double for Germany was thwarted when the Netherlands bounced back from their team final defeat by first dumping out European no.1 Han Ying in the singles through Li Jie - and then battling it out between themselves for the gold, with Li Jiao defeating Li Jie for the ticket to Brazil.

Ovtcharov, the world no.6, came from two sets down to topple 39-year-old colossus Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus 4-3 in the gold medal match at Baku Sports Hall, after a week of competition that put the European Games firmly on the Table Tennis map, with most of the continent's top players on show.

Friday was the first time the Azerbaijani crowd had to choose between world no.9 Samsonov and Ovtcharov, with the chants of support that the Ukraine-born German had received in his third-round match against Simon Gauzy causing the Frenchman to shake his fist at a group of children to be quiet during points.

Portugal's route to team gold was eased by the fall of Germany in the semis, with the withdrawal of Timo Boll through illness meaning eventual silver medallists France halted their neighbours thanks to walkovers.

"They won the European championship on home soil last year by beating Germany. It's great for Table Tennis that they are the new kids on the block," Britain's Paul Drinkhall said of the Portuguese after his surprise win over world no.10 Marcos Freitas put him in the singles semi-finals - and prevented Freitas from getting his customary congratulatory message from fellow Madeiran Cristiano Ronaldo.

Germany's women dropped their first sets of the team tournament in their 3-2 gold medal match win over the Netherlands, but the Dutch had their revenge in the singles thanks to Li Jie's 4-3 win over Han, who said she had been affected by the pressure of claiming an Olympic place for the first time.

Perhaps the biggest upset for the women, though, was 51-year-old Ni Xia Lin of Luxembourg, who beat European no.4 Georgina Pota of Hungary in round two before turning her attention to the eradication of a tactic that she believes can end careers early - namely, the distracting 'foot stomp' applied during the serve.

"I always encourage young players not to use it," Ni said.

"Who knows, one day you’ll be a top player and then your knees are gone."

Ni would know.


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    Ovtcharov and Li set gold standard

    A review of Table Tennis at the Baku 2015 European Games
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    Li Jiao wins all-Dutch duel for Table Tennis gold

    Veteran defeats Li Jie, while Turkey's Hu Melek claims bronze
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    Ovtcharov and Samsonov fulfil roles as favourites

    Europe's no.1 and no.3 to meet in men's Table Tennis gold medal match
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    Azerbaijanis feel double edge of support in Table Tennis

    With great home support comes intense pressure
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    Germany the team to beat in Table Tennis

    A preview of the Baku 2015 Table Tennis competition, which begins on Saturday 13 June
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    Table tennis players start the road to Rio in Baku

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