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Sayaka Hirano Overcomes Sun Bei Bei to Reach Women’s Singles Final
By: Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

Sun Bei Bei beaten by Sayaka Hirano in the second Women's Singles semi-final  Photo By: Victor Rojas

4/22/2007        2007 LIEBHERR Chile Open (Click here to access this section)

Sayaka Hirano, the reigning Japanese champion, secured a place in the final of the Women’s Singles event at the Liebherr Chile Open in Santiago on Sunday 22nd April 2007 when she beat Singapore’s Sun Bei Bei in the penultimate round.

Victory went to Sayaka Hirano in five games. She won 11-7, 11-7, 11-9, 7-11, 11-8.

It was the first time the pair had met in a World Ranking event.

Quick Attacks
Sayaka Hirano attacked quickly from the very start. She served throughout the opening game with the forehand, cleverly varying the length of the service; her forehand from the backhand particularly effective. Consistently she directed her first attack into the backhand of her adversary and at 10-7 held three games point.

An opportunity for an early lead in the contest had appeared and she took immediate advantage. She won the next point and the first game 11-7.

The opening game victory clearly gave Sayaka Hirano a jolt of confidence. At the start of the second game she was the faster player but Sun Bei Bei weathered the storm and at 7-6 held a one point lead.

Sayaka Hirano levelled and then in typical style paused before serving, stared at her opponent, served long to the backhand and won the next two points to go ahead 9-7. It was a telling moment in the game; the next two points were shared. The Japanese star held game point, an opportunity, as in the first game, had arisen. She capitalised on the opportunity and was two games to nil ahead.

Totally committed to the cause, urging herself forward with a squeal of glee when she won a point, Sayaka Hirano went ahead 6-4 in the third game.

She looked to attack at the first opportunity, she made some errors in so doing and at 6-all the two protagonists were level but it was Sayaka Hirano’s turn to serve.

Long Service
In the opening two games at crucial stages she had used a long service with backspin directed into the body of Sun Bei Bei; in the third game she followed the tactic again and went ahead 8-6.

Attacking quickly, looking for any opportunity to dominate she went into a 10-7 lead; Sun Bei Bei stayed calm, she saved two games points but she could not save a third. A rally developed, Sun Bei Bei attempted a forehand topspin, the ball flew off the end of the table and Sayaka Hirano was three games to nil ahead.

Fourth Game
In the fourth game Sun Bei Bei moved into a 6-4 lead, the tactic was clear, she had to put the brakes on speedy Sayaka.

A short service and then heavy topspin into the backhand of the Japanese adversary or if a weak return accrued, a fast forehand topspin wide to the forehand was the strategy for the Singaporean.

The plan reaped dividends, she went into a 9-6 lead, maintained the lead at 10-7 eventually winning the game with a fast forehand topspin to reduce the match deficit to two games.

Fast Pace
The fifth game started at a fast pace with both players attacking quickly from the backhand.

In the first three games Sun Bei Bei had been beaten by the speed of Sayaka Hirano but in the fourth games she matched her Japanese adversary. However, at 6-5 Sayaka Hirano held the advantage. Singapore coach, Liu Guodong called `Time Out’.

Sun Bei Bei levelled but the next two points went to Sayaka Hirano; attacking wide to the forehand Sun Bei Bei reduced the arrears to 8-7 but the next two points went to Japan.

The first match point was saved by the young lady from Singapore but not the second. Sayaka Hirano acknowledged the applause of the crowd, bowed smiled and left the arena victorious.



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