by Ian Marshall, Editor
It is the partnership that was originally intended for the recent Liebherr 2019 World Championships; it may well be the partnership that will be on duty at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Very much that is the situation for all 27 pairs on duty in the mixed doubles event in Shenzhen; every pair is formed by players from the same national association or to be more precise with Tokyo in mind, from the same National Olympic Committee.
Notably, Hong Kong’s Wong Chun Ting and Doo Hoi Kem, winners at the Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals, head the seeding; Slovakia’s Lubomir Pistej and Barbora Balazova are the second seeds.
In Tokyo, there will be 16 pairs on duty, a maximum of one per National Olympic Committee. Ho Kwan Kit and Lee Ho Ching occupy the third seeded position and may well be regarded as the back-up pair for Wong Chun Ting and Doo Hoi Kem.
Chinese Taipei’s Lin Yun-Ju and Cheng I-Ching, the winners earlier this year at the Seamaster 2019 ITTF Challenge Series Oman Open form the no.4 seeded partnership, followed by Germany’s Patrick Franziska and Petrissa Solja. Notably, colleagues Ruwen Filus and Han Ying, the reigning European champions are not present but in Tokyo, should a National Committee be represented in the team events, the mixed doubles players must be selected from one of the three team members. One can no doubt expect the German men’s team in Tokyo to be that of Timo Boll, Dimitrij Ovtcharov and Patrick Franziska?
One place lower, to some extent China experiments by selecting Xu Xin and Chen Meng; Austria’s Stefan Fegerl and Sofia Polcanova followed by Tomokazu Harimoto and Kasumi Ishikawa complete the top eight pairs.
Also note two names lower down the order who have become doubles experts. Spain’s Alvaro Robles and Romania’s Ovidiu Ionescu secured men’s doubles silver at the recent Liebherr 2019 World Championships. In the Shenzhen mixed doubles event, Alvaro Robles partners Galia Dvorak; Ovidiu Ionescu joins forces with Bernadette Szcos.
Alvaro Robles and Galia Dvorak occupy to no.10 seeded spot, Ovidiu Ionescu and Bernadette Szocs reserve the no.15 position. Can Alvaro Robles and Ovidiu Ionescu work the men’s doubles magic in the mixed doubles; an intriguing scenario.