21 May 2020

A good start to the year and then build on the performances; the first part of the equation stands firm, owing to COVID-19, the second part is postponed.

Did anyone make a better start to the year than Slovenia’s 21 year old Darko Jorgic? However does he have an Achilles heel?

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Notably the strength of Darko Jorgic is the powerful backhand, make no mistake the forehand does not lag far behind; it is a style that in recent years has increased in prevalence as history repeats itself.

In the 1960s we watched the mighty backhand of Stanislav Gomozkov, in those days representing the Soviet Union; in the guise of China’s Zhang Jike, rather different in style, was that not his major strength?

Now we see the stroke a major asset for Brazil’s Hugo Calderano and does not Darko Jorgic following recent Slovenia tradition. For the best part of this century, the nation’s leading light, Bojan Tokic, now 39 years old, is lethal from the backhand.

Bojan Tokic often favours serving from the backhand (Photo: Rémy Gros)


ITTF World Team Qualification

At the start of the year in January, Darko Jorgic remained unbeaten as he guided Slovenia to a place in the men’s team event at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games following success at the ITTF World Team qualification Tournament in Gondomar.

“This was the dream for all of us, for the team to qualify for Tokyo. We had one of the best draws possible. Our our team spirit was just amazing. Also I played really good tournament. Bojan was also very hot; he motivated the team.” Darko Jorgic

Moreover, Slovenia upsets the odds; the no.11 seeds, the were not amongst the favourites to gain a top nine qualification place. They recorded a 3-1 win against Iran, the no.20 seeds, prior to causing somewhat of a surprise, by the same margin they overcame India, the no.5 seeds.

  • Versus Iran: partnering Deni Kozul beat Nima Alamian / Hamidreza Taherkhani 10-12, 11-4, 8-11, 11-9, 11-8
  • Versus Iran: beat Nima Alamian 11-6, 9-11, 11-9, 11-4
  • Versus India: beat Sathiyan Gnanasekaran 11-9, 12-10, 11-3
  • Versus India: beat Sharath Kamal Achanta 10-12, 11-7, 12-10, 11-8
Slovenia delight after Darko Jorgic beats Sharath Kamal Achanta to secure a place for Slovenia at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (Photo: Rémy Gros)


ITTF World Tour German Open

Good form in Gondomar, it was the same later in the month at the 2020 ITTF World Tour German Open in Bremen; he progressed through the qualification phase to reach the main draw.

  • Qualification Round One: Beat Cho Daeseong (Korea Republic) 6-11, 11-5, 11-4, 11-7, 13-11
  • Qualification Round Two: Beat Lubomir Pistej (Slovakia) 7-11, 11-6, 5-11, 11-9, 13-11, 8-11, 11-8
  • Qualification Round Three: beat Anton Källberg (Sweden) 8-11, 11-6, 5-11, 7-11, 11-6, 11-4, 12-10
  • Round One: Lost to Jun Mizutani (Japan) 11-9, 11-8, 13-11, 11-9

Unquestionably, a most worthy performance, the only loss for Darko Jorgic being against a more experienced player, Jun Mizutani now approaching his 31st birthday.

In Bremen, Jun Mizutani ended progress (Photo: Rémy Gros)


CCB 2020 Europe Top 16 Cup

Two tournaments completed; it was the third on the list when he really raised the eyebrows. He finished in runners up spot at the CCB 2020 Europe Top 16 Cup in Montreux.

  • Round One: beat Vladimir Samsonov (Belarus) 8-11, 11-4, 11-9, 11-7, 12-10
  • Quarter-Final: beat Wang Yang (Slovakia) 11-7, 11-8, 12-10, 6-11, 22-20
  • Semi-Final: Tomislav Pucar (Croatia) 4-11, 11-1, 13-11, 15-13, 11-8
  • Final: lost to Timo Boll (Germany) 8-11, 12-10, 11-5, 11-7, 11-9

Most significantly it was his debut in the event; the performance was quite inredible.

“The Top 16 I can say this is my best result so far. I cannot explain how happy I was; a lot of people cheered for me, that gave me energy to play at a high level. I played my best ever tournament. Also I was calm. I had some chances also in final against Timo to lead two-nil but we all know who is Timo.” Darko Jorgic

Eventually in Montreux, Darko Jorgic overcame Wang Yang (Photo: Rémy Gros)


ITTF World Tour Hungarian Open

Impressive in Montreux, the next stopping point was Budapest for the 2020 ITTF World Tour Hungarian Open; as in Germany, he progressed safely through the preliminary rounds.

  • Qualification Round One: beat Yang Heng-Wei (Chinese Taipei) 11-8, 11-8, 11-5, 11-7
  • Qualification Round Two: beat Anders Lind (Denmark) 7-11, 11-4, 12-14, 11-3, 13-11, 11-3
  • Qualification Round Three: beat Adam Szudi (Hungary) 10-12, 11-6, 11-7, 10-12, 11-3, 11-8
  • Round One: lost to Kristian Karlsson (Sweden) 13-15, 13-11, 9-11, 11-8, 11-1, 11-9
Darko Jorgic maintained his form in Budapest (Photo: Richard Kalocsai)


ITTF World Tour Qatar Open

Main draw places booked on the ITTF World Tour in Germany and in Hungary; it was not to happen in Qatar. He departed proceedings in the concluding preliminary round but in his opening contest he recorded a most notable win. He beat China’s Zhou Qihao.

  • Qualification Round One: beat Zhou Qihao (China) 14-12, 7-11, 11-5, 4-11, 11-7, 11-4
  • Qualification Round Two: lost to Yukiya Uda (Japan) 11-7, 8-11, 11-8, 5-11, 9-11, 11-8, 11-9

The result is this year Darko Jorgic has climbed the men’s world rankings 10 places; he ended 2019 at no.43, in March he was listed at no.33, the highest of his career.

Notably in Doha, Darko Jorgic beat Zhou Qihao (Photo: Hussein Sayed)


Common factor

Progress, success after success but note the players against whom he experienced defeat – Jun Mizutani, Timo Boll, Kristian Karlsson, Yukiya Uda – accepted all are fine players and he did beat Cho Daeseong and Anders Lind but all are left handers with a lethal forehand top spin attacking stroke.

Is that the Achilles heel?

“True left handers is my nightmare; in the future I will practise just with left handers and  hope that this nightmare will be finish for me.” Darko Jorgic

No doubt he will find a solution, he is a bright young man and just as in the first three months of the year everything will be correct, everything will be right.

General News Features Darko Jorgic Bojan Tokic Slovenia