17 Nov 2018

Runners up just over three weeks ago in Belgium, as play progressed on the morning of Saturday 17th November in Minsk at the 2018 ITTF Challenge Belgosstrakh Belarus Open, Japan’s Kakeru Sone and Yuta Tanaka underlined the fact that they form a partnership of quality.

However, they were not necessarily the pair to attract the attention; not one seeded partnership reserved a semi-final berth.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Beaten by An Haehyun and Cho Seungmin at the final hurdle in the Flanders resort of De Haan, Kakeru Sone and Yuta Tanaka experienced the toughest test of all four winners at the quarter-final stage of proceedings; by the very narrowest of margins they accounted for the combination of Martin Allegro and Florent Lambiet, the no.2 seeds (11-13, 11-7, 7-11, 11-4, 11-9), on what did not prove the best of mornings for Belgium.

Three pairs started the day not one survived.

In addition to Martin Allegro and Florent Lambiet, brothers Laurens Devos and Robin Devos departed, as did Florian Cnudde and Thibaut Darcis.

Laurens Devos and Robin Devos experienced what was arguably a surprise defeat; the no.4 seeds, they were beaten by Sweden’s Simon Ardvisson and Elias Ranefur in a quite emphatic manner (11-8, 11-2, 11-9).

An outcome to raise the eyebrows but the result that opened eyes wider was the defeat experienced by Florian Cnudde and Thibaut Darcis, they lost to fellow qualifiers Saudi Arabia’s Al Alkhadrawi and Abdulaziz Bu Shulaybi (11-9, 6-11, 11-8, 7-11, 11-5); for the Middle East or the Gulf States it is totally new territory.

Success in five games for Al Alkhadrawi and Abdulaziz Bu Shulaybi; in the one further contest it was the same. Together for the first time the combination of Ukraine’s Kou Lei and Croatia’s Wei Shihao accounted for the partnership formed by Ukraine’s Oleksandr Didukh and Slovakia’s Lubomir Pistej (11-8, 11-9, 7-11, 7-11, 11-7).

At the semi-final stage Kou Lei and Wei Shihao meet Al Alkhadrawi and Abdulaziz Bu Shulaybi, Simon Ardvisson and Elias Ranefur oppose Kakeru Sone and Yuta Tanaka; the matches will be played later in the day in the late afternoon.

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Challenge Series 2018 Belarus Open Kou Lei Yuta Tanaka Kakeru Sone Wei Shihao Abdulaziz Bu Shulaybi Elias Ranefur Simon Ardvisson Ali Alhadrawi

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Day 4 - 2018 ITTF Challenge Belarus Open