Paovic, Van Zon meet expectations in Lignano

The Rio 2016 Paralympic champions showed no lag at one of the first major international competitions of the year. 06 Mar 2017
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Sandra Paovic of Croatia in action against Kunwoo Lee during the prelimimary round of the Women's's Table Tennis at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

Sandra Paovic of Croatia in action against Kunwoo Lee during the prelimimary round of the Women's's Table Tennis at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

ⒸAlexandre Loureiro/Getty Images
By IPC

Rio 2016 Paralympic champions Sandra Paovic and Kelly Van Zon triumphed at one of the first major international tournaments of the year, as the Lignano Master Open 2017 concluded on Saturday (4 March) in Italy.

Croatia’s Paovic cruised in the group matches of the women’s singles 6 but had to battle with Ukraine’s Maryna Lytovchenko in the semi-final to advance. Paovic took the eventual 3:2 victory and went on to sweep Ukraine’s Antonina Khodzynskaya aside for the title.

Dutch women’s class 7 Paralympic champion Van Zon also met expectations as she defeated Russia’s* Victoriya Safonova 3:1 in the finals.

Belgium’s Florian Van Acker and Ukraine’s Natalya Kosmina also showed strong form coming off of gold medals from Rio 2016. Acker needed two 3:2 victories in the quarter and semi-finals, to eventually take the men’s class 11 title over France’s Edouard Lucas Creange in five sets.

Kosmina was the victor over Russia’s* Anzhelika Kosacheva 3:1 in the women’s equivalent.

There was an upset in the women’s singles class 4-5, when 19-year-old German Sandra Mikolaschek defeated Serbia’s reigning Paralympic class 4 champion Borislava Peric-Rankovic 3:1 for the top prize.

The host nation found delight in Giada Rossi’s victory in the women’s class 1-2. The Rio 2016 bronze medallist took down Russia’s* Nadejda Pushpasheva 3:2 for her first ever gold in Lignano.

For Thomas Bruchle, after a tight five-set loss in the Rio 2016 finals, the German showed strong form with a 3:0 victory in the men’s class 3.

Around 226 players from 34 countries competed.

Complete results from the Lignano Master Open can be found on the International Table Tennis Federation’s website.

*Editor’s note: The International Paralympic Committee suspended the Russian Paralympic Committee on 7 August for its inability to fulfil its IPC membership responsibilities and obligations, in particular its obligation to comply with the IPC Anti-Doping Code and the World Anti-Doping Code (to which it is also a signatory). As a result of the suspension, Russian athletes cannot enter IPC sanctioned events or competitions, including the Paralympic Games. For further information please click here.