Lasko-Celje 2018: Different fates for top seeds

Defending world champions have mixed fortunes on day three in Slovenia

Man playing Para table tennis Jordi Morales of Spain in action during the 2018 World Para Table Tennis Championships © • Vid Ponikvar / Sportida

Penultimate round places were booked after day three of action at the 2018 Para Table Tennis World Championships wrapped up on Friday (20 October) in Lasko-Celje, Slovenia.

MEN’S ROUND-UP

For some like Spain’s Alvaro Valera and Poland’s Patryk Chojnowski, ambitions of retaining world titles remained alive. Conversely for others such as Great Britain’s Will Bayley and Ukraine’s Viktor Didukh, the reign is over.

In class 7, No. 2 seed Bayley, the gold medallist at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, experienced a quarter final defeat at the hands of Spain’s Jordi Morales (11-8, 11-6, 5-11, 8-11, 11-6). The Spaniard now meets Egypt’s Moahmed Sayed, the No. 4 seed, in the semi-finals.

In class 8, Didukh ended his run in the quarter final. The top seed was beaten by Poland’s Marcin Skrynecki (11-9, 11-8, 8-11, 13-11); he now meets Great Britain’s Ross Wilsons.

Competing in class 6 at the semi-final stage, top seed Valera meets South Korea Republic’s Park Hongkyu, the no.4 seed; in the adjacent half of the draw, Denmark’s second seed faces Thailand’s Rungroj Thainiyom in the battle of the two most recent Paralympic Games gold medallists.

Success for Valera and Chojnowski on Friday sees them closer to gold in both class 9 and class 11 respectively.

Belgium’s teenage sensation Laurens Devos meets Japan’s Koyo Iwabuchi in the battle for the class 9 semi-finals.

WOMEN’S ROUND-UP

Eyes very much set on gold in the women’s singles wheelchair classes.

The third day of action proved successful for South Korea’s Seo Suyeon and Kang Oejeong, as it did for Sweden’s Anna-Carin Ahlquist and China’s Zhou Ying; all the leading names in their respective categories.

However, the players to attract the attention were Brazil’s Catia da Silva Oliveira, Chinese Taipei’s Hsiao Shu-Chin and China’s Gu Xiaodan; as all excelled expectations.

Competing in class 1-2, Oliveira accounted for Russia’s Nadejda Pushpasheva*, the No. 3 seed (11-4, 11-7, 11-9), before ousting Italy’s Giadi Rossi, the No.2 seed (11-7, 11-7, 6-11, 5-11, 11-4) to reserve her place in the final where Suyeon awaits her.

China’s Gu Xiaodan showed good form in the quarter final stage as she beat Germany’s Sandra Mikolaschek to reserve her place in the penultimate round, where she opposes China’s Zhou Ying, the top seed.

In the opposite half of the draw Serbia’s Borislava Peric-Rankovic, the No. 2 seed, confronts China’s Zhang Miao, also the defending champion.

But the women’s standing saw semi-final surprises, particularly from Great Britain’s Fliss Pickard and Anne Barneoud of France.

Both started proceedings as the lowest rated players in the respective groups; both ended the third day of action with medals guaranteed, as penultimate round places were reserved.

Competing in class 6 and in her very first World Para Championships, Pickard caused a major quarter final upset by overcoming Poland’s No. 3 seed Katarzyna Marszal (12-10, 11-9, 12-10). At the semi-final stage she now meets Russia’s Raisa Chebanika*, the No. 2 seed.

It was exactly the same for Barneoud in the class 3. She accounted for Russia’s Ulija Shishkina* (11-13, 11-5, 11-9, 12-10) and now opposes Turkey’s Kubra Korkut in the semi-finals. In the opposite half of the draw, Kelly Van Zon of the Netherlands, the top seed, meets South Korea’s Kim Seongok.

Meanwhile, in class 10, in the penultimate round, Poland’s Natalia Partyka, the top seed, faces Australia’s Melissa Tapper, the No. 3 seed in a contest between two players who in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 for both the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

In class 7 where there were three groups in the initial phase; in the semi-finals Kelly van Zon of the Netherlands, the top seed, confronts China’s Li Guiying.

Play in Lasko-Celje at the 2018 Para Table Tennis World Para Championships concludes on Saturday (20 October).

Complete reviews from Lasko-Celje are available on the International Table Tennis Federation’s (ITTF) website, and more information can be found on the 2018 Worlds event page.

*Editor's note: The International Paralympic Committee suspended the Russian Paralympic Committee on 7 August 2016 for its inability to fulfil its IPC membership responsibilities and obligations, in particular its obligation to comply with the IPC Anti-Doping Code and the World Anti-Doping Code (to which it is also a signatory). As a result of the suspension, Russian athletes cannot enter IPC sanctioned events or competitions, including the Paralympic Games.