Sayaka Hirano, the 2011 Spanish Open Women's Singles champion
Photo By: Pablo Rubio
2011 Spanish Open - ITTF Pro Tour
Japan’s Sayaka Hirano, the no.3 seed, won the Women’s Singles title at the Spanish Open in Almeria on Sunday 10th April 2010 beating Hong Kong’s Jiang Huajun in the final.
She won in seven games (6-11, 11-8, 6-11, 11-8, 11-5, 7-11, 11-8) and in so doing extracted revenge.
The pair had met on one previous occasion on the ITTF Pro Tour; they met in the Women’s Singles final in South America at the Chile Open in Santiago in April 2007, with Jiang Huajun recording a straight games victory.
It was Sayaka Hirano’s fourth career ITTF Pro Tour Women’s Singles title; whilst for Jiang Huajun there was a degree of consolation.
In her previous three appearances on the ITTF Pro Tour in 2011 - she was present in Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Poland - she had departed in the second round on each occasion, losing to lower world ranked opposition.
The runners up spot in Almeria was a much more true reflection of her undoubted ability
Jiang Huajun was determined from the very start and when referring to the start, the very start of her quest two days earlier.
At the Volkswagen Cup in Guangzhou in late March, she had returned home to Hong Kong from a disappointing performance at the Polish Open and had departed in the first round of the Women’s Singles event in Guangzhou.
In Almeria it was a much different Jiang Huajun who was on duty; clearly she had set herself a goal, the Women’s Singles title. It was not to be.
She dominated the first game but as always Sayaka Hirano fought. In the second after trailing throughout the game she levelled at 8-all; then great credit to Jiang Huajun.
A top spin from Sayaka Hirano clipped the end of the table at Jiang Huajun’s side; it was the very faintest of edges. Sayaka Hirano believed the ball had touched, the officials thought otherwise; walking back after retrieving the ball, Jiang Huajin pointed to the edge of the table, advising the umpire that the ball had touched.
Table tennis is the richer for such exemplary behaviour; the point turned the momentum of the game, it went to Sayaka Hirano, matters were level.
Third and Fourth Games
Taking deep breaths between points, walking slowly but in a purposeful manner to pick up the ball, Jiang Huajun secured the third game.
She won the game 11-6, exactly the same margin as by which she had won the first; Sayaka Hirano immediately responded; she captured the fourth game 11-8, the same margin by which she had won the second!
Resolute, equally as determined as Jiang Huajun and determined to stay close the table to give Jiang Huajun minimal time to exert her powerful strokes, Sayaka Hirano broke the pattern of the match.
She secured the fifth game.
Backhand in Motion
In the sixth game tension mounted with the pair level at 7-all, the stage at which the renowned backhand of Jiang Huajun came into motion to secure four of the next five points and force a deciding seventh game.
The deciding seventh game saw Sayaka Hirano move ahead 4-1; Jiang Huajun called “Time Out”.
Attacking wide to the forehand, she won the next point but when the players changed ends the advantage was with Sayaka Hirano. She led 5-2; Jiang Huajun levelled at 7-all.
Sayaka Hirano called “Time Out”; back into the arena came the dancing girls to entertain the crowd during breaks in play.
The Royal Spanish Table Tennis Federation was making every effort to put on a good show and they were being treated to a splendid Women’s Singles final.
Returning to the table, Sayaka Hirano won the next point, Jiang Huajun levelled; it was 8-all.
The next two points went to Sayaka Hirano, two match points; only one needed; the ball clipped the top the net un-returnable.
There was no celebration; a sigh from Jiang Huajun, an embarrassed look from Sayaka Hirano who had won the previous with a service that clipped the end of the table at Jiang Huajun’s side.
An anti climax to a tremendous contest.