by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Furthermore, to book her place, she had to cause an upset in order to prevent a Japanese clean sweep. The no.12 seed, she accounted for Sakura Mori, the no.8 seed in six games (9-11, 11-4, 11-9, 8-11, 11-9, 11-8).
Russian defence breached
Otherwise it was success upon success for Japan with Yana Noskova’s colleagues, Polina Mikhailova, Maria Dolgikh and Olga Kulikova, all experiencing defeats.
Olga Kulikova, a qualifier, was beaten by Yuka Ishigaki, the no.2 seed (8-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-8, 11-6), whilst Polina Mikhailova, the no.3 seed suffered at the hands of Maki Shiomi, like Olga Kulikova, also a qualifier.
She was experienced defeat by the very narrowest of margins in a tense seven games encounter (12-10, 11-5, 9-11, 3-11, 6-11, 11-8, 11-9). Meanwhile for Maria Dolgikh, a defensive player like Polina Mikhailova, the defeat was less dramatic. The no.9 seed, she lost to Miyu Maeda (11-8, 6-11, 10-12, 11-7, 12-10, 11-7).
“It’s my first time at a tournament in Bulgaria, I like it very much. I think the tournament is very good, the level is very high. I’d love to come again next year. I’m not very happy with my performance, during my last match. I really hoped to win, because I felt comfortable but I didn’t play at my best”, Maria Dolgikh after losing to Miyu Maeda.
Top seed beaten
Notable performances from Maki Shiomi and Miyu Maeda but the most notable of all was that enacted by Saki Shibata, not seeded she had been required to compete in the qualification stage of proceedings; her second round contest underlined the fact that she is very adept against the defensive art.
She overcame the stylish defensive skills of colleague Hitomi Sato, the top seed, in four straight games (11-5, 14-12, 11-4, 11-7). A major upset but it must be taken into consideration the fact that both players, being from the same national association, are well known to each other.
Similarly the success recorded by Kyoka Kato, the no.14 seed against Miyu Kato, the no.4 seed, is not the surprise it may appear to suggest; the former won in four straight games (11-3, 11-5, 11-6, 11-8).
Arguable upsets but in the remaining two second round Women’s Singles event matches there were no arguments at all.
Misaki Morizono, the no.5 seed, beat India’s Manika Batra, the no.15 seed (11-8, 11-6, 11-7, 11-6); Honoka Hashimoto, the no.6 seed, overcame colleague Marina Matsuzawa, the no.10 seed (11-4, 11-7, 6-11, 3-11, 11-7, 10-12, 11-9).
At the quarter-final stage Saki Shibata meets Misaki Morizono, Honoka Hashimoto confronts Maki Shiomi. In the opposite half of the draw Kyoka Kato plays Miyu Maeda; Yana Noskova confronts Yuka Ishigaki.