13 Feb 2020

A familiar face on the international stage, especially in Europe, the Czech Republic’s Jiri Martinko was very much the player in form the first qualification round of the men’s singles event at the 2020 ITTF Challenge Plus Portugal Open in Lisbon on Wednesday 12th February.

One year ago he did not progress beyond the opening round; this year he gave himself every chance.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

In 2019, he experienced defeat in the concluding preliminary round, losing to Sweden’s Truls Moregard (11-3, 9-11, 11-7, 11-7, 12-10); this year in the opening round he caused the biggest upset.

Listed at no.986 on the current men’s world rankings, the 20 year old, who won the junior boys’ singles title at the 2016 Serbian Junior and Cadet Open, made his intentions clear. He accounted for Puerto Rico’s Daniel Gonzalez, named at no.140 in the global order, an imposing manner (14-12, 11-9, 11-9, 11-7).

Success for Jiri Martinko contrary to expectations and a good day for the Czech Republic; similarly in the opening round, colleague, Stanislav Kucera upset the order of merit. Standing at no.525 on the world rankings, he ended the hopes of New Zealand’s Dean Shu, named at no.175; similar to Jiri Martinko, he prevailed in straight games (11-8, 11-4, 11-5, 11-5).

Stanislav Kucera who beat Dean Shu (Photo: Alvaro Diaz)


Wins against notably higher rated opponents; it was the same for Brazil’s Humberto Manhani, England’s David McBeath and Chinese Taipei’s Lee Chia-Sheng. Humberto Manhani beat Chile’s Juan Lamadrid (11-5, 11-9, 11-4, 11-6), David McBeath defeated Belgium’s Florian Cnudde (11-9, 11-7, 11-4, 5-11, 12-10), Lee Chia-Sheng overcame Germany’s Nils Homeier (11-4, 11-9, 11-5, 11-8).

Surprises but not amongst the very top names on men’s singles qualification duty. Uzbekistan’s Zokhid Kenjaev was not required to raise his racket in anger, Frenchman Andrea Landrieu, Italy’s Mihai Bobocica and India’s Manav Vikash Thakkar all negotiated the opening round.

Shock in store

Progress for Manav Vikash Thakkar but later in the day, there was a shock in store; the top seed in the under 21 men’s singles event, he was beaten by Chile’s Nicolas Burgos (5-11, 11-8, 11-4, 9-11, 11-9).

Defeat for the top seed, two further notable names also departed in the early stages; Korea Republic the cause of the upsets. In the second round, Belgium’s Florian Cnudde, the no.3 seed, lost to Kim Taehyun (11-8, 11-4, 15-13), one round earlier, Russia’s Denis Ivonin, the no.8 seed, had suffered against Kim Woojin (11-9, 11-8, 11-7).

Kim Taehyun who beat Denis Ivonin in the opening round of the under 21 men’s singles event (Photo: Alvaro Diaz)


Impressive from Kim Woojin, it was the same in round two; the 18 year old beat Romania’s Darius Movileanu, the boys’ singles winner at the 2019 ITTF Cadet Challenge in Wladyslawowo; showing no charity to his four years younger opponent, Kim Woojin prevailed in straight games (11-7, 11-8, 11-9).

Unexpected outcomes but not for the other leading names, Frenchman Bastien Rembert duly advanced to round three as did colleague Jules Rolland. Likewise amongst the top eight seeds, there were third round places for Russia’s Vladimir Sidorenko, Chinese Taipei’s Feng Yi-Hsin and Belgium’s Laurens Devos.

Reserved places

Meanwhile in the under 21 women’s singles, the top four names all reserved third round places.

Japan’s Maki Shiomi and Daria Trigolos of Belarus duly advanced as did the Romanian’s Andreea Dragoman and Adina Diaconu. However, there were major second round surprises, Russia’s Mariia Tailakova, the no.6 seed, lost to Portugal’s Ines Matos (11-4, 5-11, 11-8, 11-8); Nadezhda Bogdanova of Belarus, the no.8 seed, was beaten by Slovenia’s Ana Tofant (3-11, 16-14, 11-9, 11-9).

A shock defeat for Mariia Tailakova (Photo: Rita Taborda)


Play in the qualification stage of the women’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles events take place in entirety on Thursday 13th February, the day on which the second round of the men’s doubles will also be completed.

Challenge Series 2020 Portugal Open Jiri Martinko Stanislav Kucera

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Day 3 - 2020 ITTF Challenge Plus Portugal Open