17 Nov 2018

A tournament to remember, one that took their country to new levels but on the evening of Saturday 17th November at the 2018 ITTF Challenge Belgosstrakh Belarus Open in Minsk, the journey came to an end.

Saudi Arabia’s Ali Alkhadrawi and Abdulaziz Bu Shulaybi experienced a Men’s Doubles semi-final defeat at the hands of the combination formed by Ukraine’s Kou Lei and Croatia’s Wei Shihao; they were beaten in three straight games (11-6, 11-6, 11-4).

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Success for Croatia, thanks primarily to the efforts of Tamara Boros, Zoran Primorac and Tan Ruiwi, the country is no stranger to appearances in finals at open international tournaments, for Ukraine, it is somewhat of a watershed.

Other than in Under 21 Men’s Singles events, no player from Ukraine has ever reached the final of any event at an ITTF World Tour or ITTF Challenge Series tournament.

However, could Minsk prove a good omen? The only title secured by Ukraine on the ITTF World Tour was in 2009 when Yaroslav Zhmudenko won Under 21 Men’s Singles gold, the city in question? It was Minsk.

Earlier in 2008 he had been the runner up in Poland and in 2009 in Slovenia but most significantly, also in 2009 he won the Under 21 Men’s Singles title at the Grand Finals in Macao.

Similarly, competing in Under 21 Men’s Singles events, in 2002, wearing the colours of Ukraine, Oleksandr Didukh was the runner up in Warsaw, in 2008 Kou Lei finished in the silver medal position in Slovenia. Now 10 years later in Minsk, he seeks one step higher.

A first appearance for Ukraine, for Japan it is nothing new; at the final hurdle Kou Lei and Wei Shihao face Kakeru Sone and Yuta Tanaka. Likewise qualifiers, at the semi-final stage by the very narrowest of margins, the duo from the Land of the Rising Sun overcame Sweden’s Simon Ardvisson and Elias Ranefur (13-11, 11-8, 10-12, 5-11, 11-9).

The final will be played on the afternoon of Sunday 18th November.

Challenge Series 2018 Belarus Open Kou Lei Wei Shihao Abdulaziz Bu Shulaybi Ali Alkhadrawi

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Day 4 - 2018 ITTF Challenge Belarus Open