Slovakia inflicted a 3-2 defeat on defending champions Austria in their opening men's group match at the ITTF European Team Championships ©ITTF

Slovakia provided the International Table Tennis Federation’s European Team Championships in Luxembourg with a startling opening flourish today as they defeated defending champions Austria 3-2 in their first Men’s Championship Division Group B match.

The host nation added to the drama by coming from behind to defeat the Czech Republic by the same score in their Women’s Championship Division Group B opener at d’Coque.

Austria made the slightly brighter start to the match with Daniel Habesohn and Robert Gardos prevailing over Slovak representatives Lubomir Pistej 8-11, 11-6, 3-11, 12-10, 6-11 and Peter Sereda 11-5, 11-9, 9-11, 9-11, 9-11 to give the reigning champions a commanding lead.

The match was turned on its head as the Slovak team registered back-to-back victories of its own courtesy of Wang Yang and Peter Sereda, who overcame challenges from Stefan Fegerl 2-11, 11-9, 11-2, 9-11, 11-9 and Daniel Habesohn 11-7, 11-5, 11-5 before Lubomir Pistej completed the win with a stylish performance against Robert Gardos 11-3, 12-10, 11-9.

Renata Strbikova gave the Czech Republic the early lead in the match against Luxembourg following a positive display against Sarah De Nutte in 7-11, 10-12, 11-9, 6-11 and, while Ni Xialian was able to level the scores with a straight games win against Iveta Vacenovska 11-6, 11-2, 11-4, the Czech Republic’s lead was soon restored as Hana Matelova saw off Danielle Konsbruck 10-12, 11-5, 6-11, 6-11.

The host nation kept up the fight and respective victories for Sarah De Nutte and Ni Xialian over Iveta Vacenovska 6-11, 12-10, 14-12, 11-6 and Renata Strbikova 11-8, 11-7, 4-11, 11-9 gave Luxembourg the win by a 3-2 scoreline.

Results elsewhere went broadly to form as title favourites Germany, winners of the men’s title on six consecutive occasions until they were beaten in last two finals by Portugal and then Austria, defeated Spain 3-0 in their opening Group A match thanks to victories from Ruwen Filus, Dimitrij Ovtcharov and Patrick Franziska.

Croatia joined Germany on two points after a 3-1 Group A result against Belarus.

Luxembourg's women provided the home crowd with an unexpected victory on the opening day of the ITTF European Team Championships as they beat the Czech Republic ©ITTF
Luxembourg's women provided the home crowd with an unexpected victory on the opening day of the ITTF European Team Championships as they beat the Czech Republic ©ITTF

Portugal got off to a 3-0 win over Slovenia in the other Group B match.

France, seeking to reach their first men’s team final at continental level for 19 years, beat Poland 3-1 in their Group D opener, despite their European men’s singles champion Emmanuel Lebesson being beaten 11-6, 9-11, 8-11, 7-11 by Wang Zengyi.

Ukraine were the other men’s Group D winners on the opening day, beating Romania 3-1.

Luxembourg’s men were unable to match the exploits of their female compatriots, as they were swiftly beaten 3-0 by Greece, with the other maximum points in Group C going to Sweden - winners of this event a record 14 times, but not since 2002.

Sweden defeated Russia 3-0, thanks to victories from Anton Kallberg, Kristian Karlsson and Mattias Karlsson.

Romania’s women top Group B along with the hosts after a 3-0 win over the Netherlands

Elsewhere in the Women’s Champion Division, Germany and Hungary both made winning starts to their Group A campaigns, triumphing over Sweden 3-1 and Croatia 3-0 respectively.

Austria and Portugal ended up on the winning side in their encounters claiming 3-1 victories against Group C opponents Ukraine and Spain.

Over in Group D Russia came back from a trailing position to beat Belarus over four matches, and Poland registered a straightforward 3-0 result against France.

The home mood dropped a little in the evening session, where the women all played a second match, as the host team lost 3-1 to the Netherlands, slipping to third in Group B, where Romania went top thanks to a second win, 3-1 over the Czech Republic.

Elsewhere in the women’s evening matches, Austria moved to a clear lead in Group C with a tense 3-2 win over Portugal, while Ukraine defeated Spain 3-0 in the other Group C match.

Defending champions Germany claimed a second consecutive win in Group A, 3-0 against Hungary and lead by a point over Sweden, who beat Croatia 3-1.

Russia earned a 3-1 win over Poland to go top of Group D, where France beat Belarus 3-2 in their second match.