28 May 2023

Clear favourites for gold but silver the lot for Tokyo winners

Medals to their credit at major tournaments but never the very pinnacle, the host nation’s Igor Misztal and Spain’s Eduardo Cuesta caused arguably the biggest upsets of the year at the ITTF Polish Para Open 2023.

On the second day of action in Wladyslawowo, Saturday 27th May, both beat reigning Paralympic Games gold medallists.

Competing in men’s singles class 10, a group organised all-play-all event, in his concluding contest, Igor Misztal overcame colleague Patryk Chojnowski (11-9, 4-11, 13-11, 13-11) to maintain his unbeaten record against an adversary who, in addition to his success at Tokyo 2020, is the reigning World champion.

“The Polish Para Open is very important, I am fighting for a place in the Paralympic Games. I won this tournament and gained points on the World ranking. I’m closer to being in Paris.” Igor Misztal

Eyebrow raising from Igor Misztal, the same from Eduardo Cuesta. He secured the men’s singles class 11 title, at the final hurdle beating Hungary’s Peter Palos (11-9, 11-5, 11-3); notably in addition to three years ago in the Japanese capital city, he was the winner in 2012 in London.

Eduard Cuesta excelled expectations (Photo: Bogdan Pasek)
Eduard Cuesta excelled expectations (Photo: Bogdan Pasek)

Outstanding performances, the successes rather overshadowed the splendid efforts of Italy’s Federico Falco and Sweden’s Jonas Hansson.

Both commenced play in the no.3 seeded position; in a group organised men’s singles class 1 event, Federico Falco ended the hopes of the Korea Republic. He beat Pak Sungjoo, the top seed (6-11, 11-9, 13-11, 13-11), before concluding his schedule of matches unbeaten with victory over Kim Hakjin, the no.2 seed (6-11, 11-7, 12-10, 8-11, 11-9).

Somewhat differently, in men’s singles class 7, safely through the group stage, Jonas Hansson recorded a semi-final win in opposition to Poland’s Maksym Chudzicki, the top seed (7-11, 11-6, 11-5, 11-8), prior to clinching the title at the expense of Hong Kong’s Tong Chi Ming (11-7, 11-5, 11-4).

Not seeded, likewise at the semi-final stage, Tong Chi Ming had ended Polish title hopes; he beat Michal Deigsler (9-11, 11-6, 11-8, 12-14, 11-9).

Upsets, otherwise in the men’s singles events, the favourites ruled.

Gold for Tommy Urhaug (Photo: Bogdan Pasek)
Gold for Tommy Urhaug (Photo: Bogdan Pasek)

In the wheelchair categories it was gold for Poland’s Rafal Czuper (class 2), Serbia’s Mladen Ciric (class 3), Turkey’s Abdullah Ozturk (class 4) and Norway’s Tommy Urhaug (class 5).

Similarly, in the standing competitions, top spots as anticipated were reserved by Great Britain’s Paul Karabardak (class 6), Poland’s Piotr Grudzien (class 8) and Spain’s Ander Cepas (class 9).

Surprise outcomes in the men’s singles, to a lesser degree in the counterpart women’s singles events; the unexpected results of note being those achieved by Turkey. Contrary to expectations, Merve Demir captured the class 9-10 title, Ebru Acer secured class 11 gold.

Very much an outsider, not amongst the seeded names, Merve Demir beat Hungary’s Alexa Szvitacs, the top seed and reigning World champion not once but twice! In the group stage she won in straight games (11-8, 11-9, 15-13), in the final in one game more (11-6, 13-11, 5-11, 11-8).

Impressive from Merve Demir; it was the same from Ebru Acer, the no.2 seed, she accounted for Poland’s Dorota Nowacka, the top seed (11-7, 11-4, 11-4) at the final hurdle.

A determined Merve Demir (Photo: Bogdan Pasek)

Gold medallists against the odds, in the remaining women’s events it was gold as advised. Italy’s Carlotta Ragazzini (class 1-2), justified her status, as did Serbia’s Borislava Peric-Rankovic (class 4-5), Sweden’s Cajsa Stadler (class 6), Turkey’s Kubra Korkut (class 7) and Germany’s Nina Beck (class 8).

Success for Borislava Peric-Rankovic, later she enjoyed more success adding the women’s doubles class 10 title in harness with colleague Nada Matic.

Two titles for Borislava Peric-Rankovic, for the men it was the same for Rafal Czuper and Eduard Cuesta; Rafal Czuper partnered compatriot, Thomas Jakimczuk to men’s doubles class 4 gold, Eduard Cuesta combined with Sweden’s Karl Hansson to secure the men’s doubles class 22 top prize.

Also, Hong Kong’s Wong Yue Ching, claimed two titles; partnering Chiu Kan Shan she the won women’s doubles class 14 top prize; alongside Tong Chi Ming, mixed doubles class 14.

Piotr Grudzien, the most successful player on duty in Wladyslawowo (Photo: Bogdan Pasek)

Most worthy performances but the worthiest was Piotr Grudzien; he emerged the only player with a full house.

Following his men’s singles class 8 success, he combined with Karolina Pek to claim the mixed doubles class 20 title, before in alliance with Patryk Chojnowski, prevailing in men’s doubles class 18.

Silverware for the hosts, there was more; Maksym Chudzicki and Michal Deigsler secured the men’s doubles class 14 top prize; Ewa Cychowska partnered Hungary’s Peter Palos to mixed doubles class 22 gold.

Meanwhile, for visitors, there was notable women’s doubles success for Turkey. Merve Demir and Neslihan Kavas won class 20, Ebru Acer and Sumerya Turk, class 22; not to be overlooked, Ali Ozturk and Irem Oluk struck gold in mixed doubles class 10.

Alas for teammates Abdullah Ozturk and Nesim Turan it was just one step short; in men’s doubles class 8 they had to settle for silver, beaten in the final by Slovakia’s Peter Mihalik and Boris Travincek (11-9, 11-3, 4-11, 11-4).

Gold for Boris Travincek and Peter Mihalik (Photo: Bogdan Pasek)
Gold for Boris Travincek and Peter Mihalik (Photo: Bogdan Pasek)

Matters concluded in Wladyslawowo, attention now turns to the Jordanian capital city of Amman, the three-day ITTF Al-Watani Para Championships 2023, commence on Thursday 1st May.


General News ITTF Polish Para Open 2023