16 Nov 2018

A place in the last eight, on Friday 16th November at the 2018 ITTF Challenge Belgosstrakh Belarus Open in Minsk, Ali Alkhadrawi and Abdulaziz Bu Shulaybi set totally new standards for Saudia Arabia; they became the first such pairing from the west Asian country, at either an ITTF World Tour or ITTF Challenge Series tournament, to book a last eight place.

Against the odds a main draw place reserved the previous day, facing even greater odds, a first round win was recorded; they beat Turkey’s Ibrahim Gündüz and Abdullah Yigenler, the no.3 seeds, in four games (11-7, 11-6, 3-11, 11-6).

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Success contrary to status, they were not alone; quite incredibly six of the eight pairs who booked quarter-final places started their quest for honours in the preliminary rounds.

The success recorded by Ali Alkhadrawi and Abdulaziz Bu Shulaybi was arguably the biggest upset but that of the combination formed by Ukraine’s Oleksandr Didukh and Slovakia’s Lubomir Pistej was a very close second in line. They accounted for India’s Harmeet Desai and Sanil Shetty, the top seeds (11-9, 6-11, 11-9, 11-8).

Impressive from Ukraine’s Oleksandr Didukh and Lubomir Pistej; it was the same from Belgium’s Florian Cnudde and Thibaut Darcis. They overcame Frenchmen Benjamin Brossier and Antoine Hachard, the no.8 seeds, by the very narrowest of decisions (11-5, 9-11, 4-11, 11-9, 12-10).

Disappointment for France, there was more; Alexandre Robinot and Joe Seyfried, the no.6 seeds, experienced defeat at the hands of Sweden’s Simon Ardvisson and Elias Ranefur (9-11, 11-9, 13-11, 12-10). The end of the road for France, it was the same for the host nation, Aliaksandr Khanin and Pavel Platonov, the no.5 seeds, lost to Japan’s Kakeru Sone and Yuta Tanaka, the runners up some three weeks ago in Belgium. They experienced defeat by the narrowest of margins (11-9, 9-11, 6-11, 13-11, 11-9).

Five surprise pairings through to the last eight, the further unexpected duo to reserve a quarter-final place was that formed by Ukraine’s Kou Lei and Croatia’s Wei Shihao; they received a walk-over when due to face Poland’s Tomasz Kotowski and Patryk Zatowka.

Similarly, Laurens Devos and Robin Devos, the no.4 seeds, gained a walk-over in opposition to Germany’s Gerrit Engemann and Kilian Ort on what proved a most fruitful round for Belgium. In the one match played where a seeded pair actually won, Martin Allegro and Florent Lambiet, the no.2 seeds, beat the Czech Republic’s Tomas Konecny and David Reitspies (11-8, 11-9, 13-11).

The quarter and semi-finals of the Men’s Doubles event will be played on Saturday 17th November.

Challenge Series 2018 Belarus Open Abdulaziz Bu Shulaybi Ali Alkhadrawi and Abdulaziz

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Day 4 - 2018 ITTF Challenge Belarus Open