Baptism of Fire for Solja
Solja has been handed a tough start to the Rio 2016 women’s singles draw. The German player skips the opening three rounds of Rio 2016, but potentially faces Ri Myong Sun (Korea DPR) in her opening match.
Following that, if she is successful, Solja could meet Japan’s Ai Fukuhara (World No.6) for a place in the quarter-finals where World No.4 Feng Tianwei (Singapore) may be awaiting her.
German women’s team coach Jie Schöpp echoed the difficulty of Solja’s draw, “For Peti (Petrissa Solja) that would be a difficult start, she’s already upset about it. In the past months Peti has improved her play… also against defence, but against attack she is clearly stronger.”
Optimism in the Team Event
Despite the hard schedule for Solja in the women’s singles, she can summon up some optimism for the women’s team tournament as Germany have been drawn in the opposite half of the draw to 1st seeds China.
Germany’s opponents in round 1 will be USA, with either Hong Kong or Chinese Taipei up next, assuming the Germans advance. Then a theoretical tie against Japan in the semis could open up, but that wouldn’t necessarily signify Germany’s exit from the Games after what happened at the 2016 World Team Championships.
Both Japan and Germany went head-to-head in the Women’s Championship Division, and despite the former of the two nations reaching the final, Germany managed to cause a big upset as Japan lost out 2-3 in the group stages. Petrissa Solja partnered Kristin Silbereisen and Sabine Winter at the Championships, while Rio 2016 will see Han Ying and Shan Xiaona join Solja in the team event.
Petrissa isn’t the only member of her family to have participated in an Olympic Games – her sister (Amelie) represented Austria in the women’s team event at London 2012. This time around Amelie Solja hasn’t been selected for Austria; Sofia Polcanova is taking Amelie’s place alongside Liu Jia and Li Qiangbing. However, Amelie was the only Austrian player in the women’s team event to win a match in London, beating Jiang Huajun in straight games as Hong Kong prevailed 3-1 over Austria in the opening round.
Reasons to be Cheerful
Rio 2016 could be Petrissa Solja’s chance to shine on the international stage, and her form in 2016 thus far will give her a confidence boost. Solja saw off the likes of Kasumi Ishikawa, Ai Fukuhara and Yang Haeun at the World Team Championships, while at club level she helped TTC Berlin Eastside (Germany) pick up the Women’s Champions League title.
by Simon Daish