by Ian Marshall
Significantly, the top four seeds all competed in recent World Table Tennis (WTT) tournaments held in late February and early March in Qatar.
So, who is the pair in form; what is the evidence from the country’s capital, Doha?
Puerto Rico’s Brian Afanador and Adriana Diaz, the pair that heads the list were on duty in both the Contender and Star Contender tournaments, as were Brazil’s Vitor Ishiy and Bruna Takahashi, the next in line. In addition, Mexico’s Marcos Madrid and Yadira Silva, the no.4 seeds, were present in both events; conversely, Argentina’s Horacio Cifuentes and Camila Arguelles, the no.3 seeds, competed only in the Contender event.
Just one appearance for the Argentine duo but one of significance. They beat Marcos Madrid and Yadira Silva to reserve their place in the main draw after the Mexicans had overcome Belgium’s Cédric Nuytinck and Lisa Lung. Progress, but for Horacio Cifuentes and Camila Arguelles it was short lived; in the opening round they experienced defeat at the hands of Slovakia’s Lubomir Pistej and Barbora Balazova.
Defeat for Marcos Madrid and Yadira Silva but the following week at the Star Contender tournament, the pair who in 2014 and 2015 had been crowned Latin American champions, excelled.
In their opening encounter they overcame Hungary’s Nandor Ecseki and Dora Madarasz, prior to recording what must be considered one of their best ever results as a pair; they accounted for India’s Sharath Kamath Achanta and Manika Batra. Just under two weeks later at the Asian Olympic Qualification tournament, the Indian duo beat Korea Republic’s Lee Sangsu and Jeon Jihee to reserve their place in Tokyo.
Horacio Cifuentes and Camila Arguelles’ progress ended in the opening round with Lubomir Pistej and Barbora Balazova proving the nemesis of Latin America. The following week at the quarter-final stage of the Star Contender event, the Slovakians ended the progress of Vitor Ishiy and Bruna Takahashi.
However, that was not before the Brazilians had excelled and exacted revenge. In the Contender tournament they had departed proceedings in their opening contest, losing to Egypt’s Omar Assar and Dina Meshref; in the Star Contender event they turned the tables, ousting the Egyptians to book a place in the main draw where they continued their endeavours. Ishiy and Takahashi defeated Hungary’s Adam Szudi and Szandra Pergel to reserve their quarter-final place, the Slovakians closing the curtain.
Three most creditable efforts, it was the same from Brian Afanador and Adriana Diaz, the only pair outside Asia and Europe to win a mixed doubles title in recent years at an open international tournament: they succeeded at the ITTF Challenge 2019 Paraguay Open.
At the Contender tournament, they experienced a preliminary stage defeat when facing Italy’s Jordy Piccolin and Jamila Laurenti but at the Star Contender event, they accounted for Sweden’s Anton Källberg and sister Christina Källberg to book their main draw place where a prodigious pair awaited. They were beaten by Jun Mizutani and Mima Ito, the top seeds and on the list of many, medal favourites in Tokyo.
So, who is the pair in form; the decision to name the winners is yours but look down the list; the Dominican Republic’s Wu Jiaji and Eva Brito occupy the no.8 seeded spot.
Wu Jiaji is not bad at mixed doubles; in Bratislava at the 2010 World Junior Championships, representing China, he partnered Gu Yuting to gold!