15 Feb 2020

Places in the third round of the men’s singles event at the 2020 ITTF Challenge Plus Paraguay Open in Lisbon at stake; when play closed on the evening of Friday 14th February, five players who had started their journey two days earlier in the qualification stage were still alive.

In the counterpart women’s singles, the total was less than half that number.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Yarsolav Zhmudenko and Yevhen Pryshchepa excelled in the men’s singles event for Ukraine; Feng Yi-Hsin kept the hopes of Chinese Taipei alive, as did Andreas Levenko for Austria and Mihai Bobocica with respect to Italy.

Very much pride of place went to Mihai Bobocica, he recovered from a three games to one deficit to record a shock seven games win against Chinese Taipei’s Chen Chien-An, the no.6 seed (8-11, 11-13, 6-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-7, 11-9).

Equally impressive, Andreas Levenko, after accounting for Nigeria’s Olajide Omotayo, the no.22 seed, beat Brazil’s Vitor Ishiy, the no.10 seed, (12-10, 11-6, 5-11, 11-3, 12-10).

Qiu Dang ended the hopes of Robert Gardos (Photo: Rémy Gros)


Now Andreas Levenko shoulders the hopes of his nation; in the second round, colleague, Robert Gardos, the no.2 seed, experienced a surprise defeat at the hands of Germany’s Qiu Dang, the no.20 seed (3-11, 11-5, 6-11, 12-10, 9-11, 13-11, 12-10).

Similar situation

It is the same situation for Feng Yi-Hsin, as a result of the unexpected exit experienced by Chen Chien-An. He very much took a liking to players with same surname; in the opening round he beat Brazil’s Thiago Monteiro, the no.15 seed (11-8, 11-3, 9-11, 11-8, 11-7), one round later he ousted the host nation’s João Monteiro, the no.23 seed (15-13, 11-7, 11-3, 11-5).

Disappointment for Portugal but there was more than compensation; in the second round João Geraldo, the no.32 seed, beat Japan’s Shunsuke Togami (11-7, 10-12, 11-7, 11-6, 11-7) the first round winner in opposition to Slovakia’s Wang Yang, the no.4 seed (11-9, 11-8, 9-11, 10-12, 10-12, 11-8, 11-6).

Likewise, it was defeat in round two for Masataka Morizono, the no.5 seed and also from Japan. He was beaten by Ecuador’s Alberto Miño, the no.18 seed (11-5, 4-11, 11-8, 11-6, 5-11, 11-9).

Yukiya Uda successfully through to round three (Photo: Rita Taborda)


Otherwise, the leading names reserved third round places; Egypt’s Omar Assar, the top seed, duly progressed, as did Frenchman, Emmanuel Lebesson, the no.3 seed, Japan’s Yukiya Uda, the no.7 seed and to the delight of the host nation, Tiago Apolonia, the no.8 seed.

Opposite scenario

Problems for João Monteiro, for his wife, Daniela Monteiro Dodean and Thailand’s Nanthana Komwong, in the women’s singles, it was the opposite scenario.

Both required to qualify, Daniela Monteiro Dodean booked her third round place by overcoming Portugal’s Leila Oliveira, the no.32 seed (10-12, 11-9, 12-14, 11-6, 12-10, 11-5). Nanthana Komwong ousted Chinese Taipei’s Chen Szu-Yu, the no.5 seed (14-12, 11-9, 9-11, 11-7, 9-11, 8-11, 11-5).

A surprise win for Nanthana Komwong but it was not the day’s biggest upset in the women’s singles event; that privilege belonged to India’s Sreeja Akula. In the opening round she accounted for Puerto Rico’s Adriana Diaz, the no.3 seed and recent winner at the Universal 2020 ITTF Pan America Cup. Sreeja Akula succeeded in seven games (3-11, 9-11, 11-6, 12-10, 11-9, 10-12, 11-8). Alas for Sreeja Akula, the euphoria was short-lived; in the second round she was beaten by Italy’s Debora Vivarelli, the no.22 seed (3-11, 9-11, 11-6, 12-10, 11-9, 10-12, 11-8).

Debora Vivarelli who beat Sreeja Akula (Photo: Rémy Gros)


Other than for Luxembourg’s Ni Xialian, the no.8 seed who was disqualified in the second round following a disputed point when facing India’s Manika Batra, the no.17 seed; the leading names advanced to the third round. Japan’s Kasumi Ishikawa, Hitomi Sato, Miyu Kato and Saki Shibata all progressed as did Thailand’s Suthasini Sawettabut.

Double trouble

Troubles for notable names, in the men’s doubles it was problem times for worthy pairs. Most notably Shunsuke Togami and Yukiya Uda, the top seeds, suffered defeat at the hands of Korea Republic’s Baej Kwangil and Park Chan-Hyeok (12-10, 11-7, 11-9).

Similarly, the combination of Senegal’s Ibrahima Diaw and Thailand’s Padasak Tanviriyavechakul, the no. 8 seeds and winners last November in Indonesia, departed in round one; a situation that applied to Brazil’s Vitor Ishiy and Thiago Monteiro, the no.3 seeds, alongside Russia’s Vladimir Sidorenko and Kirill Skachkov, the no.7 seeds.

Meanwhile, Romania’s Alexandru Cazacu and Argentina’s Horacio Cifuentes, the no.5 seeds, were forced to withdraw from proceedings leaving just three seeded pairs through to the quarter-finals. Hungary’s Nandor Ecseki and the Czech Republic’s Tomas Polansky, the no.2 seeds, duly advanced; an outcome that applied to the partnership of Serbia’s Aleksandar Karakasevic and Slovakia’s Lubomir Pistej.

Diogo Carvalho (left) and (right) João Geraldo through to the quarter-finals (Photo: Rita Taborda)


Importantly from a host nation perspective, there was a quarter-final place for Diogo Carvalho and João Geraldo, the no.6 seeds and winners last year in Serbia.

Total opposite

Upsets in the opening round of the men’s doubles, in the women’s doubles it was totally the opposite. All eight seeds booked quarter-final places.

Imposingly, the top seeded pairs both recorded emphatic wins. Chinese Taipei’s Chen Szu-Yu and Cheng Hsien-Tzu beat Romania’s Adina Diaconu and Andreea Dragoman (11-6, 12-10, 11-6); Japan’s Honoka Hashimoto and Hitomi Sato overcame the combination of Argentina’s Ana Codina and Finland’s Finland’s Anna Kirichenko (11-6, 11-5, 11-3).

Likewise in the opening round of the mixed doubles, the top two pairs enjoyed success but there were surprises. Slovakia’s Lubomir Pistej and Barbora Balazova, the top seeds, after standing on the precipice of defeat in the fourth game, eventually accounted for Belgium’s Laurens Devos and Lisa Lung (11-6, 12-14, 6-11, 15-13, 11-5). Less dramatically, the French combination of Tristan Flore and Laura Gasnier overcame Samuel Kaluzny and Tatiana Kukulkova, like Lubomir Pistej and Barbora Balazova from Slovakia (11-1, 11-2, 11-6).

Barbora Balazova (left) and (right) Lubomir Pistej eventually overcame Laurens Devos and Lisa Lung (Photo: Rita Taborda)


Progress for European pairs, alas for Latin American partnerships they provided the surprise exits. Puerto Rico suffered, Brian Afanador and Adriana Diaz, the no.4 seeds and winners last year in Paraguay, lost to Thailand’s Padasak Tanviriyavechul and Suthasini Sawettabut (6-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-9); Daniel Gonzalez and Melanie Diaz, the no.8 seeds, experienced the same fate when facing Switzerland’s Lionel Weber and Rachel Moret (11-5, 11-6, 14-12).

Titles decided

The quarter-finalists decided, in both the under 21 men’s singles and under 21 women’s singles events, the winners are known.

In the former, Russia’s Vladimir Sidorenko beat Japan’s Shunsuke Togami (8-11, 13-11, 11-9, 3-11, 12-10) to secure the top prize; in the latter, Maki Shiomi, like Shunsuke Togami from Japan, secured the verdict at the expense of Daria Trigolos of Belarus (11-4, 11-3, 10-12, 11-3).

Vladimir Sidorenko, the under 21 men’s singles winner (Photo: Rita Taborda)


On Saturday 15th February, the mixed doubles winners will be known. In addition the men’s doubles and women’s doubles finalists will be decided as will the men’s singles and women’s singles semi-finalists.

Challenge Series 2020 Portugal Open Feng Yi-Hsin Mihai Bobocica Andreas Levenko Yevhen Pryshchepa Yarsolav Zhmudenko

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Day 3 - 2020 ITTF Challenge Plus Portugal Open