24 Jan 2020

Staged in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, at the Liebherr 2017 European Team Championships, Slovenia excelled, against all expectations they secured a bronze medal in the men’s team event; now over two years later in the Portuguese town of Gondomar, once again they defied predictions.

On the afternoon of Friday 24th January at the 2020 ITTF World Team Qualification Tournament, they created history, for the very first time, Slovenia will be represented in the team events at an Olympic Games; the trio of Darko Jorgic, Deni Kozul and Bojan Tokic is Tokyo bound!

by Ian Marshall, Editor

New heights for Slovenia, the no.11 seeds in Gondomar; the booking made by overcoming another outfit that is climbing the echelons of the sport. They beat India, the no.5 seeds, the nation that in 2018 made major breakthroughs, winning gold at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and then later at the Asian Games in Jakarta.

Fielding the same trio that gained success in Luxembourg, the backbone of the victory was Darko Jorgic, a young man who has made most substantial progress since the watershed success in small European nation. At the time in September 2017, he stood at no.164 on the men’s world rankings, now his name appears at no.40 in the global order.

He beat both Sathiyan Gnanasekaran (11-9, 11-7, 11-5) and Sharath Kamal Achanta (10-12, 11-7, 12-10, 11-8), after Slovenia had changed the doubles partnership from the previous encounter against Iran.

Doubles dilemma

In the opening round, Deni Kozul had partnered Darko Jorgic; they beat Nima Alamian and Hamidreza Taherkhani (10-12, 11-4, 8-11, 11-9, 11-8).

Facing India, Deni Kozul joined forces with Darko Jorgic, the pair having been together at the Liebherr 2019 World Championships and on the ITTF World Tour in Hungary and Hong Kong; the best a quarter-final finish in Hungary. The decision did not bear fruit, the Slovenian duo experienced a straight games defeat at the hands of Sharath Kamal Achanta and Harmeet Desai (11-9, 11-7, 11-5).

A change to the order but the decision was somewhat forced upon Slovenia; Bojan Tokic, one of the most positive characters you could ever wish to meet, had not been well.

“I have had 38 degrees fever since yesterday, so yes we changed our draw. I was not able to play two singles. It was not a tactical decision, it was a sign from up above that Darko should play the two singles and he played really well. It was not easy to play under the fever, my co-ordination and speed was not working well, so I needed a little more time but in the end it was perfect.” Darko Jorgic

Not fully fit but great credit to Bojan Tokic; matters level, in the third match of the fixed , he fought for the cause, he beat Harmeet Desai, the player who last year had won the men’s singles title at the Commonwealth Championships. He won in five games (5-11, 12-10, 6-11, 11-5, 11-6) to set the scene for Darko Jorgic. The 21 year old duly obliged.

Disappointment for India, who like Slovenia have never appeared in an Olympic Games team event, endured a heart breaking day which had started with high hopes.

Earlier in the women’s event, the no.17 seeds, the trio comprising Manika Batra, Ayhika Mukherjee and Sutirtha Mukherjee had experienced a 3-2 defeat at the hands of the no.5 seeds, Romania’s Daniela Monteiro-Dodean, Elizabeta Samara and Bernadette Szocs.

In both the men’s team and women’s team events India now plays for the no.9 spot, the one remaining place.

2020 ITTF World Team Qualification Event Darko Jorgic

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Day 5 - 2020 ITTF World Team Qualification Tournament

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