by Ian Marshall, Editor
Occupying the no.20 seeded spot in the draw, having at the semi-final stage accounted for Denmark’s Anders Lind, the no.24 seed, by the very narrowest of margins (8-11, 11-5, 4-11, 13-15, 11-2, 11-6, 12-10); at the final hurdle he prevailed in a contest equally as intense.
He beat Ukraine’s Yevhen Pryshchepa (11-7, 5-11, 11-7, 11-5, 9-11, 8-11, 11-8) a player who has never advanced beyond the second round of a men’s singles event on the ITTF World Tour or at an ITTF Challenge Series tournament.
Listed at no.148 on the current men’s world rankings, not seeded, the penultimate round winner in opposition to the host nation’s João Geraldo, the no.32 seed (7-11, 12-10, 11-2, 5-11, 14-12, 6-11, 11-5); in the final the 34 year mounted a brave recovery.
Trailing 3-1 in games; he won the fifth and sixth to force a decider. In the seventh Qiu Dang led by the minimal one point margin at the change of ends. Yevhen Pryshchepa reduced the deficit to one point at 8-7 but that was the nearest he came; at 10-7 Qiu Dang held three match points, three championship points, on the second attempt he converted.
Throughout the contest Qiu Dang had proved effective over the table when using the backhand to return service. He employed the techniques used so successfully by China’s now retired Wang Hao, utilising both sides of the racket in the modern pen-hold grip manner. True to European traditions, preferring to play from a step back from the table, Yevhen Pryshchepa was seemingly comfortable in the rallies,
Good form continues
Thus very much the run of good form continues for Qiu Dang. Notably some two weeks ago he had impressed at the 2020 ITTF World Tour Platinum German Open; he had booked his place in the main draw following wins against Chinese Taipei’s Feng Yi-Hsin, Sweden’s Jon Persson and Austria’s Robert Gardos. Not unexpectedly, China’s Ma Long ended adventures.
In the second round in Lisbon, again he overcame Robert Gardos, wins in successive tournaments against the Austrian was no mean performance. Sandwiched in between, the 41 year old had secured third place at the CCB 2020 Europe Top 16 tournament.
Similarly Feng Yi-Hsin reached the quarter-finals in Lisbon; at the 2020 ITTF World Team Qualification tournament in Gondomar, Jon Persson had remained unbeaten. All were players in form.
Name not on list
The Swede is destined for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and appears on the Swedish entry for the Hana Bank 2020 ITTF World Team Table Tennis Championships.
Conversely, at the moment the name of Qiu Dang does not appear on either team sheet. Timo Boll, Patrick Franziska, Dimitrij Ovtcharov, Ruwen Filus and Benedikt Duda, the player with whom Qiu Dang has formed a highly successful doubles partnership, form the quintet presently selected for Busan.
Undoubtedly, the selection reflects the current strength of the German national team; the result the progress of Qiu Dang. In February 2018, he stood at no.304 on the world rankings, one year later at no.122, now he is at no.77.
Meanwhile, for Yevhen Pryshchepa, he excelled all expectations, rising above the achievements of such national team members in recent times as Oleksandr Didukh and Kou Lei; however to match the best of them all, he has some distance to go.
In the days when Ukraine was a member of the Soviet Union, the now 65 year old Anatoli Strokatov, when partnering Asta Gedratite, reached the mixed doubles final at the Sarajevo 1973 World Championships losing to China’s Liang Geliang and Li Li. Three years later in Prague it was once again silver. He was beaten in the final of the men’s singles event at the 1976 European Championships by Frenchman, Jacques Secretin.
In Lisbon it was the same for Yevhen Pryshchepa but it was totally new territory, not only for himself, also for Ukraine. He is the first player from the country ever to reach a men’s singles final on the ITTF World Tour or at an ITTF Challenge Series tournament.
One player only
Only one player, male or female, from Ukraine has secured a title in either competition; in 2009 on the ITTF World Tour in Belarus, Yaroslav Zhmudenko won the under 21 men’s singles event, later in the year also succeeding in the Grand Finals in Macao.
Impressively in Lisbon, Yaroslav Zhmudenko beat Egypt’s Omar Assar, the top seed in the third round (11-7, 11-4, 5-11, 7-11, 11-7, 6-11, 11-9), before in the very next round losing to Yevhen Pryshchepa (11-9, 12-10, 11-4, 11-6). Defeat but on the concluding day of play he returned to the scene, he sat courtside as the coach for his colleague.
Ultimately the title belonged to Germany to Qiu Dang but Yevhen Pryshchepa left Lisbon with an injection of confidence; the perseverance shown over the years was rewarded, runners up spot was a most worthy finished, way beyond expectations.