The final set of European qualifiers were decided today at the European Olympic Singles Qualification Tournament. Five men and four women singles quotas were awarded. The event was held in Guimaraes, Portugal from April 21st to April 25th 2021.
The format of the competition began with a group stage where unseeded players competed in a round robin and the top finishers advanced to the second stage. Two single elimination brackets were constructed and the winners of each would qualify to the games. The losers moved onto stage three and were reseeded and placed into two single elimination brackets where the two winners grabbed a quota. On the men’s side, the losing finalists would face against each other to determine the fifth and final quota.
The men’s second stage had its biggest upset in the second round where overall top seed, Daniel Habesohn of Austria lost to Romania’s Rares Sipos 4-1. Additionally, third seed Panagiotis Gionis of Greece lost to Spain’s Alvaro Robles who turned a 3-2 set deficit into a 4-3 victory. Robles would reach the finals on his side of the bracket and went to a seventh set against Russia’s Vladimir Sidorenko where he won it in a dramatic 17-15 style. Sipos wouldn’t fare so well in his final match as he lost 4-2 to Ukraine’s Lei Kou.
In the third stage, Sipos was unable to replicate his performance where he lost in the third round to Gionis 4-1. Gionis played Czech Republic’s Pavel Sirucek for the quota where he won 4-1 after losing the first set. In the other bracket the final came down to Romania’s Ovidiu Ionescu whom defeated Habesohn 4-3 and Great Britain’s Paul Drinkhall whom won in straight sets against Luxembourg’s Eric Glod in the previous round. Ionescu was able to clinch the quota by defeating Drinkhall 4-1. The fifth and final quota was decided in a match between Sirucek and Drinkhall where the former won 4-2.
Top seeds in the women’s singles second stage also didn’t fare too well as both the top two seeds lost in the second round after receiving a bye in the first round. Czech Republic’s Hana Matelova lost to France’s Prithika Pavade while Slovakia’s Barbora Balazova lost to France’s Jia Nan Yuan. The French duo would reach their respective finals where they both secured a quota to the Olympics. Pavade won over Russia’s Yana Noskova 4-1 while Yuan defeated Portugal’s Jieni Shao 4-2.
Noskova was able to secure her spot to the Olympics in the third stage as she was able to win her bracket. She defeated Turkey’s Sibel Altinkaya 4-1 in the semi-final before taking on Bulgaria’s Polina Trifonova where after going 2-2 in the first four sets she was able to win 4-2. The fourth and final quota came down to Spain’s Maria Xiao whom defeated Sweden’s Christina Kallberg 4-2 and Balazova whom dispatched Shao 4-1 in the semi-finals. The match and Olympic quota were won by Xiao whom played seven sets, winning the final one 11-6.
This wraps up the European qualifiers in table tennis. Unqualified athletes can now only qualify via the world rankings.
Update: With France obtaining a women’s team quota due to the withdrawal of North Korea, the quotas won here were reallocated to Bulgaria’s Polina Trifonova and Sweden’s Christina Kallberg.