Alvaro Robles Qualifies For Career-First Olympic Games!

Congratulations to Spain’s Alvaro Robles! (Photo: ITTF)

Following a frantic week of table tennis at the 2020 European Olympic Singles Qualification Tournament, five male and four female competitors from the European continent have successfully claimed their tickets to the forthcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

The first players to book their place in Tokyo were the No.4 and No.7 seeds, Kou Lei (Ukraine) and Alvaro Robles (Spain). Kou defeated Romania’s Rares Sipos in six games (11-9, 11-7, 11-8, 4-11, 5-11, 11-6), while Robles saved four match points to beat Russia’s Vladimir Sidorenko (9-11, 12-10, 14-12, 8-11, 9-11, 11-3, 17-15). As a result, the Spaniard qualifies for a career-first Olympic Games, while the Ukrainian will make his third career appearance at the Games.

Three further names will join Lei and Robles in Tokyo: Ovidiu Ionescu (Romania), Pavel Sirucek (Czech Republic) and Panagiotis Gionis (Greece).

Despite suffering a poor start to his qualification campaign, Ionescu secured his spot after claiming victory over Austrian top seed Daniel Habesohn (3-11, 8-11, 12-10, 11-8, 9-11, 11-1, 11-7) and subsequently England’s Paul Drinkhall (11-3, 11-6, 11-5, 10-12, 11-8). Sirucek also overcame Paul Drinkhall to qualify (11-3, 11-3, 6-11, 8-11, 11-7, 11-7). Drinkhall was announced as the first reserve in the category, due to his efforts.

It was double success for France in the women’s singles, as Prithika Pavade and Yuan Jia Nan both sealed their passage to Tokyo. Pavade, just 16 years-of-age, was simply outstanding, defeating Russia’s Yana Noskova, the No.3 seed, in just five games (11-5, 11-7, 14-12, 9-11, 11-6). Yuan likewise punched above her weight, dispatching Portugal’s Shao Jieni, No.4 seed (7-11, 11-8, 7-11, 11-5, 11-5, 11-8).

No stopping Yuan Jia Nan in the Women’s Singles draw (Photo: ITTF)

Despite falling short to the unexpected strength of Pavade, Noskova would finally take her rightful place on the final day of proceedings in Portugal, alongside Spain’s Maria Xiao. Noskova saw off Bulgaria’s Maria Trifonova in an anticipated victory (11-4, 12-10, 9-11, 9-11, 11-6, 11-9), while Xiao was forced to do battle with second seed Barbara Balazova in a fiery contest (11-9, 6-11, 11-7, 11-9, 4-11, 5-11, 11-6). Trifonova and Balazova were named as the first and second reserves in the category.

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