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Alvaro Robles, living life on a knife edge (Photo: Portuguese Table Tennis Federation)

Staged in the Portuguese city of Guimarães, two places in Tokyo 2020 in each of the men’s singles and women’s singles event, were decided on Saturday 24th April, France being the nation very much to the fore.

Prithika Pavade and Yuan Jia Nan emerged successful in the women’s singles; for the men it was Ukraine’s Kou Lei and Romania’s Rares Sipos.

In the decisive contests, Prithika Pavade, only 16 years old and outside the leading names, being the no.34 seed, accounted for Russia’s Yana Noskova, the no.3 seed (11-5, 11-7, 14-12, 9-11, 11-6).

Less of an upset, Yuan Jia Nan, the no.9 seed, overcame Portugal’s Shao Jieni, the no.20 seed (7-11, 11-8, 7-11, 11-5, 11-5, 11-8).

Hard fought contests but nothing could match the engagement between Spain’s Alvaro Robles, the no.7 seed and Russia’s Vladimir Sidorenko, the no.23 seed; the Spaniard prevailed in a titanic seventh game (9-11, 12-10, 14-12, 8-11, 9-11, 11-3, 17-15).

Eventual success for Alvaro Robles, for Kou Lei times were less fraught; the no.4 seed, he beat Romania’s Rares Sipos, the no.20 seed, in six games (11-9, 11-7, 11-8, 4-11, 5-11, 11-8).

Two further places in the men’s singles, three in the women’s remain to be decided; play concludes on Sunday 25th April.