France's 2016 champion Emmanuel Lebesson was beaten in the first round of the European Table Tennis Championships in Warsaw today ©Getty Images

France’s Emmanuel Lebesson, the 2016 European men’s table tennis champion, made an unexpectedly early exit from the latest edition of the Championships in Warsaw today.

Lebesson, seeded 14, was beaten in the first knockout round-of-64 by Romania’s 47th seed Hunor Szocs, who won 11-8, 13-11, 12-10, 11-13, 11-8 at the Arena COS Torwar in the Polish capital. 

Home player Samuel Kulczycki provided another of the surprises on the third day of the Championships as he beat Russia’s Kiril Skachkov, number 22 seed, to advance to the round-of-32.

Kulczycki, seeded 80, won 11-7 in the seventh and deciding game after the Russian had led 5-2.

Sweden’s top seed and 2019 world silver medallist Mathias Falck - ranked world number eight - also had to come back from the brink of defeat before seeing off Pavel Platonov of Belarus 6-11, 9-11, 11-8, 11-6, 6-11, 11-2, 11-9.

But for Germany’s 40-year-old defending men’s singles champion Timo Boll, seeking to build on his record number of seven titles, it was an easy day as he beat Denmark's Tobias Rasmusen in straight games 11-3, 11-5, 11-8, 11-5.

The shock of the day in the women’s round-of-64 matches was the defeat of Germany’s eighth seed, Nina Mittelham, at the hands of Turkey’s 49th ranked Sibel Altinkaya, who won 3-11, 11-7, 8-11, 12-10, 3-11, 11-5, 13-11.

These delayed Championships are due to conclude on Sunday (June 27).

The European Table Tennis Union postponed the event last August amid a rise in COVID-19 cases in the host nation Poland, as well as increased travel restrictions.

The tournament was originally scheduled to take place from September 15 to 20.

With the European Championships held a month prior to Tokyo 2020, it is an opportunity for players to test their form prior to the Olympic Games.