EUROPE

Ecl: Orenburg Swept With Charleroi In First Semifinal

ECL: Orenburg swept with Charleroi in first semifinal
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The Russian team, composed of former Charleroi stars, flew to Belgium and had no mercy with the famous local team defeating them by 3:0, only losing 1 game in the whole match and leaving almost no hope for Saive's team to reach the 2010-211 European Champions League final...

History, and more than 70 years of difference on their foundation dates, didn't mean anything last sunday, when Russian club GAZPROM Fakel Orenburg showed no mercy against 33-time Belgium champion, 5-time ECL champion and 2009-2010 ECL runner-up La Villette Charleroi.

The Russian team, composed of former Charleroi stars Dimitrij Ovtcharov, Vladimir Samsonov and Alexei Smirnov, executed their mission with killer efficiency, only losing one set in the whole 3 matches.

In the first set, chinese Wang Jian Jun faced Dimitrij Ovtcharov, key part on last year's Charleroi ECL success reaching the final against Borussia Dusseldorf. And the German didn't dissapoint his new team being the clear winner of the match by 9-11, 8-11, 8-11. The chinese could control the set during some parts of the game, but Ovtcharov showed the credentials that have him at #15 in the world ranking and regained control each time to finally take the first point.

The second set was one between two monster athletes: former #1 and world championship finalists Jean-Michel Saive and Vladimir Samsonov. And although J-M showed great form being already in his early 40's, Vladi simply swept with him with an expressive 5-11, 7-11, 4-11, thus giving the 2nd point to the Russians and confirming the tremendous superiority over Charleroi.

Third set was the most fighted one and gave Charleroi fans some chance of, at least, hoping a better result to face the second semifinal later in the month. But it was nothing more than hope. Alexei Smirnov from Orenburg, set an early and strong advantage of 2-0 against Andreij Gacina, thus leaving the Belgians at the edge of the abyss, but the croatian made a tremendous comeback winning the third game and saving 3 match balls in the fourth. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to gain the game when he had the chance and Smirnov took advantage of that and won the full match for his team with a 4-11, 5-11, 11-8, 11-13.

Orenburg will receive Charleroi in their second semifinal on April 15 in the match that will decide the first ECL 2010-211 finalist, while Niederosterreich will receive current champion Borussian Dusseldorf for their first semifinal this next Wednesday April 6th.

Who do you think will win this next Wednesday? local Werner Schlager's Niederosterreich or powerfull Timo Boll's Borussian Dusseldorf?

Photo source: ITTF flickr channel

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Table Tennis was banned in the USSR from ca 1930 to 1950 because it was believed to be harmful to the eyes

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