Germany's Dimitrij Ovtcharov claimed the men's singles gold crown with victory over Belarusian Vladimir Samsonov ©Getty Images

Top seed Dmitrij Ovtcharov banished the disappointment of Germany’s torrid men’s team table tennis final defeat by securing individual success with a narrow victory over Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus in a thrilling contest to win European Games gold here today.

Ovtcharov, the reigning European champion and world number six, justified his billing as the pre-tournament favourite with a hard-fought 10-12, 7-11, 11-9, 11-3, 9-11, 11-7, 11-8 win against the third seed in a fascinating battle between two of the continent’s best.

The women’s gold went to Li Jiao of The Netherlands, who comfortably beat compatriot Li Jie 4-0 in a one-sided final.

The victories for both Ovtcharov and Li Jiao ensure they will compete at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games as the sport is one of the few to offer direct qualification.

From the opening exchanges, it was clear the men’s match would go the distance and the German had to take the trickier route to the title as he dropped the first two games.

That allowed the imposing Belarusian to dictate play as he attacked early in order to limit the duration of the points.

Ovtcharov grew more into the contest, though, displaying his vast array of shots from seemingly impossible distances from the table, and he squared the match at two games all with a trademark backhand.

The match was gradually growing into a classic and the rapturous crowd were treated to some memorable rallies.

The 26-year-old German was beginning to find his range and he went ahead for the first time in the match to make it 3-2.

Samsonov, however, was not going down without a fight as he displayed the defensive tactics which make him such an awkward opponent.

Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus pushed the number one seed all the way before he lost the final game decider
Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus pushed the number one seed all the way before he lost the final game decider ©Getty Images

But it was Ovtcharov who was able to sneak over the winning line in a final game fraught with tension and nerves as he became the first European Games men’s singles champion.

“After winning the women's team event, the German girls took their gold medal to the German House here in Baku, and I took a good look at the gold medal,” he said.

“That provided me with some extra motivation.”

The women’s final proved to be the polar opposite to the men’s affair as Li Jiao’s power was too strong for her compatriot, who adopted a defensive approach throughout.

Li Jie opted to navigate the ball over the net with delicacy, utilising a great deal of spin, but she did not quite manage to cause her opponent enough problems and in truth, Li Jiao never looked like suffering defeat.

She took a tense opening game, where both players were clearly finding their feet, by virtue of a 13-11 scoreline and that seemed to deflate Li Jie, who crumbled to an 11-5 reverse in the second.

Li Jiao of The Netherlands sealed the women's title with a comfortable win over compatriot Li Jie
Li Jiao of The Netherlands sealed the women's title with a comfortable win over compatriot Li Jie ©Getty Images

The 2008 world champion Li Jiao continued to demonstrate her attacking intent and again she got the better of her counterpart in a close third game, edging it 12-10.

The final game was reflective of the nature of the match as Li Jie did not stray from her principles, continuing to use slice as her shot of choice, but Li Jiao had her team-mate’s gameplan worked out and breezed to an 11-5 success to seal a whitewash victory and The Netherlands’ second European Games gold.

Melek Hu of Turkey claimed the final podium spot as she ousted Eva Odorova of Slovakia 4-1 in the bronze medal match with a supremely confident display.

Kou Lei ensured Ukraine earned the men’s bronze medal as he beat Britain's Paul Drinkhall 4-2 in what was another exhilarating match-up.

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