by Ian Marshall, Editor

Pride of place went to Serbia, the no.27 seeds, the winners the previous day in opposition to Austria, the no.6 seeds; they continued their outstanding run of form, a 3-2 win being the outcome against Hong Kong China, the no.10 seeds.

Star of the show was 18 year old Dimitrije Levajac, currently listed at a lowly no.397 on the men’s world rankings; in the second match of the fixture he beat Lam Siu Hang (11-7, 7-11, 11-7, 11-7), before in the vital fifth and deciding contest accounting for Wong Chun Ting (11-9, 8-11, 10-12, 11-3, 11-6), a player currently named at no.19 in the global order but as high as no.8 last year in March.

Impressive performances

Similarly, 21 year old Darko Jorgic was the man in form for Slovenia, the no.20 seeds. They posted a 3-1 success against India, the no.5 seeds. He beat both Sathiyan Gnanasekaran (11-9, 12-10, 11-3) and Sharath Kamal Achanta (10-12, 11-7, 12-10, 11-8).

Success contrary to expectations for Serbia and Slovenia, it was the same from the no.9 seeds, the Croatian outfit formed by Andrej Gacina, Frane Kojic and Tomislav Pucar. They were in no mood for charity, a 3-0 win was recorded in opposition to the no.7 seeds, Great Britain’s Paul Drinkhall, Liam Pitchford and Sam Walker.

Comprehensive wins

Croatia, Serbia and Slovenia bound for Tokyo contrary to expectations, for Korea Republic, Chinese Taipei, Sweden, France and Portugal they secured reservations as status advised; all recording 3-0 wins in the determining round.

Korea Republic, the top seeds, beat the Czech Republic, the no.16 seeds; Chinese Taipei, the no.2 seeds, overcame Poland, the no.23 seeds. Likewise, there was success for Sweden, the no.3 seeds, against Hungary, the no.17 seeds, as there was for France, the no.4 seeds, in opposition to Slovakia, the no.18 seeds.

Following suit Portugal, the no.8 seeds, proved too strong for Belgium, the no.12 seeds.

Close call for Romania

In the women’s event, Romania, the no.5 seeds, experienced the closest call of all, the full five matches being needed to secure victory against India, the no.17 seeds. The player to suffer was Bernadette Szocs, she was beaten by both Ayhika Mukherjee (12-10, 5-11, 11-2, 11-7) and by Sutirtha Mukherjee (8-11, 11-7, 11-9, 3-11, 11-4).

Problems for Bernadette Szocs, to the rescue came Daniela Monteiro-Dodean. In the opening match of the fixture she joined forces with Elizabeta Samara to beat Sutirtha Mukherjee and Ayhika Mukherjee (10-12, 12-10, 7-11, 11-5, 11-6), before in the decisive fifth contest of the fixture overcoming Manika Batra (11-8, 11-4, 3-11, 11-4).

Favourites prevail

Otherwise it was success in less traumatic fashions for the favourites.

Top seeds, Hong Kong China recorded a 3-0 win against Belarus, the no.22 seeds; similarly, it was victory by the same margin for Chinese Taipei, the no.2 seeds, in opposition to France, the no.18 seeds.

Convincing performances, it was little different for Austria, the no.6 seeds, when facing Spain, the no.14 seeds; a 3-1 margin of victory was the outcome, the one defeat being suffered by Sofia Polcanova when facing Maria Xiao (11-3, 6-11, 5-11, 11-5, 11-4).

Austria, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong China and Romania now join DPR Korea, Hungary, Poland and Singapore, teams which qualified on the second day of play, at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Teams experiencing defeat in the round of the last 16 now compete for the one remaining place.

Order of play

Saturday 25th January

Women’s Team
10.00 T2 Belarus (22) v Spain (14)
10.00 T3 Ukraine (9) v Korea Republic (4)
10.00 T1 Netherlands (11) v Portugal (13)
10.00 T4 India (17) v France (18)

19.00 Belarus or Spain v Ukraine or Korea Republic
19.00 Netherlands or Portugal v India or France

Men’s Team
16.00 T1 Czech Republic v India
16.00 T2 Great Britain v Hungary
16.00 T3 Slovakia v Belgium
16.00 T4 Hong Kong China v Poland

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