by Simon Daish
Two of the top five seeded entries in the men’s singles qualification race missed out in the final preliminary round.
Sam Walker, no.36 seed, will play no further part on the singles front with Denmark’s Tobias Rasmussen producing a commanding display to overcome the Englishman, whom he partnered in the men’s doubles draw three years back in Alicante (13-11, 11-9, 11-6). The biggest casualty of the round was undoubtedly Finland’s Benedek Olah, no.33 seed, whose difficult qualification campaign ended in defeat after falling short against Belarus’ Pavel Platonov (11-3, 12-10, 7-11, 11-8).
Turkey’s Ibrahim Gunduz also caught the eye although, unlike Sam Walker and Benedek Olah, he did so for the right reasons. Named as the 59th seeded competitor, Gunduz performed admirably as he outgunned no.39 seed Florent Lambiet of Belgium without dropping a single game (11-9, 11-7, 11-4)!
No margin for error, there were also unexpected scenes in the women’s singles preliminary round as Margo Degraef exited earlier than anticipated. The highest-seeded player competing in the round, Belgium’s Degraef, no.44 seed, was simply outclassed by her Lithuanian counterpart Kornelija Riliskyte, seeded 22 positions lower, who deservedly moves through to the Round of 64 (11-6, 11-2, 11-8).
The seeding order was upset again when Croatia’s Hana Arapovic took to the table. Seeded 83rd for the women’s singles event, 16-year-old Arapovic had the odds stacked against her as she met no.65 seed Karolina Mynarova. However, Arapovic more than rose to the occasion, beating the Czech in straight games (11-6, 11-5, 11-8).
Sabina Surjan has been in the thick of it right from the start of play in Warsaw and the no.38 seed from Serbia nearly saw her run come to a crashing halt, requiring a mini-comeback effort to negotiate her meeting with Slovenia’s Katarina Strazar (11-2, 7-11, 9-11, 11-5, 11-4). Another star name to book their place in the main draw was Prithika Pavade after the French teenage ace, 16, overcame the host nation’s Anna Wegrzyn by a punishing 3-0 score-line (11-1, 11-6, 11-7).
For more information regarding the Liebherr 2020 ITTF European Championships visit the official tournament website at https://www.ettu.org/en/events/ittf-european-individual-championships-/general-information/