16 Feb 2020

Required to qualify, Ukraine’s Yevhen Pryshchepa emerged the biggest surprise name, amongst a host of surprise names, to reach the semi-final stage of the men’s singles event at the 2020 ITTF Challenge Plus Portugal Open in Lisbon on Saturday 15th February.

Presently listed at no.148 on the world rankings, the 34 year totally defied the odds to advance to unprecedented heights.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

In the third round, by the narrowest of margins he beat the host nation’s Tiago Apolonia, the no.8 seed (7-11, 11-6, 11-4, 14-16, 11-5, 8-11, 11-9) to book his place in the quarter-finals where a familiar face awaited.

“I’m very happy to win, this is a good result for me. I know that he is a top level player, so I needed to be patient and keep fighting for every point; wait for his mistakes. I needed to keep away from his forehand; that’s where he is so good, play to his backhand throughout the match; this was my tactic.” Yevhen Pryshchepa

He confronted colleague, Yaroslav Zhmudenko, likewise not seeded but a player in outstanding form; incredibly one round earlier he had beaten Egypt’s Omar Assar, the top seed, in an equally enthralling contest (11-7, 11-4, 5-11, 7-11, 11-7, 6-11, 11-9).

“I feel good, I played well. I have played against Omar many times before and I think he played a little bit softer this time. It was very hard, I had to fight unbelievably hard; at 3-3 and ahead 6-2, he had a good chance but he didn’t play aggressively enough. I played some very good points to win the match. I feel very happy to win.” Yaroslav Zhmudenko

A place in the semi-finals beckoning, Yevhen Pryshchepa seized the opportunity, he accounted for his worthy colleague in straight games (11-9, 12-10, 11-4, 11-6).

Yaroslav Zhmudenko beat by Yevhen Pryshchepa in the quarter-finals (Photo: Rita Taborda)


Totally new horizons for Yevhen Pryshchepa; a player who previously had never advanced beyond the opening round on the ITTF World Tour and never beyond the second round at an ITTF Challenge Series tournament.

Runner up in Spain

In fact of the four semi-finalists, the only member of the group who has reached the penultimate round at an open international tournament is Germany’s Qiu Dang; last year he was the runner up at the 2019 ITTF Challenge Spanish Open.

After overcoming Austrian qualifier Andreas Levenko (11-4, 10-12, 7-11, 10-12, 11-3, 12-10, 11-7), he beat England’s Paul Drinkhall, the no.14 seed (11-9, 8-11, 11-7, 5-11, 11-6, 11-9) to reserve his place in the penultimate round.

Hard earned from Qiu Dang, it was the same from Denmark’s Anders Lind, the no.24 seed when facing Ecuador’s Alberto Miño, the no.18 seed, he needed the full seven games (5-11, 11-4, 11-8, 13-15, 9-11, 11-4, 11-7). Confidence boosted he excelled to cause a major upset; he accounted for Frenchman Emmanuel Lebesson, the no.3 seed, in straight games (13-11, 11-8, 11-4, 11-5).

Anders Lind celebrates victory against Emmanuel Lebesson (Photo: Rita Taborda)


Most impressive from Anders Lind; it was no different with respect to João Geraldo, the host nation’s hero. The no.32 seed he overcame Finland’s Benedek Olah, the no.29 seed (15-13, 12-10, 4-11, 11-8, 11-2), prior ousting Chinese Taipei’s Feng Yi-Hsin (11-8, 11-7, 16-14, 11-8) to reserve his semi-final place.

  • Semi-final: Yevhen Pryshchepa (Ukraine) v João Geraldo (Portugal)
  • Semi-final: Anders Lind (Denmark) v Qiu Dang (Germany)


Cheng Hsien-Tzu

Somewhat differently in the women’s singles event, there was just one major surprise name to reserve a semi-final place. Chinese Taipei’s Cheng Hsien-Tzu, the no.13 seed, accounted for Italy’s Deborah Vivarelli, the no.22 seed (11-8, 12-10, 11-6, 13-11) prior to ending the hopes of Thailand’s Suthasini Sawettabut, the no.6 seed (11-8, 12-10, 12-10, 8-11, 1-11, 11-6).

A surprise, according to status, the appearance of Japan’s Saki Shibata in the penultimate round was also not to be anticipated but having won five ITTF Challenge Series women’s singles titles, the progress was not earth shattering news. The no.7 seed, after overcoming colleague Honoka Hashimoto, the no.10 seed and the winner last week in Spain (11-6, 11-2, 11-8, 11-9), she prevailed against Germany’s Shan Xiaona, the no.16 seed (11-8, 11-8, 11-7, 9-11, 11-6) to secure her place in the semi-finals.

Saki Shibata beat Shan Xiaona to reach the semi-final round (Photo: Rita Taborda)


Otherwise, it was progress as the pecking order predicted, Japan securing three of the four women’s singles penultimate round places. Kasumi Ishikawa, the top seed, beat Monaco’s Yang Xiaoxin, the no.15 seed (18-16, 11-9, 9-11, 8-11, 11-8, 11-4) followed by success against Britt Eerland of the Netherlands (8-11, 11-6, 11-5, 13-11, 13-11); Miyu Kato, the no.4 seed, overcame Laura Gasnier of France, the no.26 seed (11-2, 12-10, 13-11, 11-7), before ending the run of Thailand’s Nanthana Komwong (11-3, 11-6, 11-5, 11-8).

  • Semi-final: Kasumi Ishikawa (Japan) v Miyu Kato (Japan)
  • Semi-final: Cheng Hsien Tzu (Chinese Taipei) v Saki Shibata (Japan)


Matter of conjecture

Surprise semi-finalists but as to whether that is the situation in the men’s doubles, is matter of conjecture. Required to qualify Korea Republic’s Baek Kwangil and Park Chan-Hyeok meet the host nation’s Diogo Carvalho and João Geraldo.

  • Final: Baek Kwangil / Park Chan-Hyeok (Korea Republic) v Diogo Carvalho / João Geraldo (Portugal)

Last week in Spain, Baek Kwangil and Park Chan-Hyeok concluded proceedings in runners up spot; last year in Serbia. Diogo Carvalho and João Geraldo emerged the winners.

On the penultimate day of play, Baek Kwangil and Park Chan-Hyeok accounted for Russia’s Vladimir Sidorenko and Kirill Skachkov, the no.7 seeds (11-9-8-11, 11-9, 10-12, 11-8), before overcoming the combination of Serbia’s Aleksandr Karakasevic and Slovakia’s Lubomir Pistej (11-5, 11-13, 11-9, 11-6) to reach the final.

In the penultimate round Park Chan-Hyeok (left) and (right) Park Chan-Hyeok accounted for Aleksandr Karakasevic and Lubomir Pistej (Photo: Rita Taborda)

In the opposite half of the draw, Diogo Carvalho and João Geraldo also ended the hopes of Russia. They overcame Sadi Ismailov and Denis Ivonin (11-8, 11-6, 11-7), prior to overcoming the no.2 seeds, the partnership formed by Hungary’s Nandor Ecseki and the Czech Republic’s Tomas Polansky (13-11, 11-9, 11-8).

Surprise factor less

Unexpected finalists, in the women’s doubles event, the surprise factor was far less.

Thailand’s Orawan Paranang and Suthasini Sawettabut, the no.4 seeds, after receiving a walk-over when due face Russia’s Yana Noskova and Olga Vorobeva, the no.6 seeds, recorded a semi-final win against Puerto Rico’s Adriana Diaz and Melanie Diaz, the no.5 seeds (13-15, 11-4, 11-6, 11-7). One round earlier the Puerto Ricans had gained a walk-over when scheduled to face Chinese Taipei’s Chen Szu-Yu and Cheng Hsien-Tzu, the top seeds.

  • Final: Orawan Paranang / Suthsasini Sawettabut (Thailand) v Satsuki Odo / Saki Shibata (Japan)

Progress for Orawan Paranang and Suthasini Sawettabut who won on home soil in Bangkok in 2018; there was also success for Japan’s Satsuki Odo and Saki Shibata seeking an unprecedented seventh ITTF Challenge Series women’s doubles title.

Suthasini Sawettabut through to the women’s doubles final in partnership with Orawan Paranang (Photo: Rita Taborda)


The no.3 seeds, they beat Spain’s Galia Dvorak and Zhang Sofia-Xuan, the no.7 seeds (11-6, 10-12, 11-4, 11-3), prior to securing their final place by ousting Honoka Hashimoto and Hitomi Sato, the no.3 seeds (11-9, 11-2, 11-6).

French success

Finalists decided in the men’s doubles and women’s doubles, in the mixed doubles the winners were determined.

In an all French final, Emmanuel Lebesson and Yuan Yi Nan, the no.5 seeds, beat Tristan Flore and Laura Gasnier, the no.2 seeds (11-8, 11-8, 11-6) to arrest the title.

  • Final:  Emmanuel Lebesson / Yuan Yi Nan (France) bt Tristan Flore / Laura Gasnier (France) 11-8, 11-8, 11-6) 

Earlier in the day, Emmanuel Lebesson and Yuan Yi Nan had caused a major upset by beating Slovakia’s Lubomir Pistej and Barbora Balazova, the top seeds (12-10, 11-8, 8-11, 11-4), before ousting Serbia’s Aleksandar Karakasevic and Izabela Lupulesku, the no.3 seeds (11-4, 4-11, 11-7, 11-7).

Emmanuel Lebesson (left), focused as (right) as Yuan Yi Nan serves (Photo: Rita Taborda)


A series of wins against the odds, in the opposite half of the draw for Tristan Flore and Laura Gasnier it was as predicted. At the quarter-final stage they beat Italy’s Niagol Stoyanov and Giorgia Piccolin, the no.6 seeds (11-3, 11-9, 12-10), prior to ousting Thailand’s Padasak Tanviryavechakul and Suthasini Sawettabut (11-8, 11-8, 11-6).

Play concludes in Lisbon on Sunday 16th February.

Challenge Series 2020 Portugal Open Yevhen Pryshchepa

No results found.

Photo Gallery

Day 3 - 2020 ITTF Challenge Plus Portugal Open