by Simon Daish
Russia’s Polina Mikhailova (fourth seed) is the highest ranked European competitor at the Czech Open, and will be hoping to take home her second World Tour Women’s Singles title on Sunday 4th September.
The 2012 Belarus Open was the last time Mikhailova won a singles title on the tour and she is only one of three Russians to win a World Tour Women’s Singles event, with Maria Bykova (2013 Morroco Open) and Maria Dolgikh (2013 Egypt Open) being the other two.
Mikhailova’s game has seen a solid progression over the past year, from beating Han Ying in the quarter-finals of the 2015 European Championships in Ekaterinburg (Russia) to qualifying for her first Olympic Games. Unfortunately, she suffered a disappointing defeat to Belarusian player Viktoria Pavlovich at Rio 2016, making a second round exit in the Women’s Singles draw.
Sitting one place behind Mikhailova on the seeding list is Georgina Pota (Hungary) who is also looking to add to her sole World Tour singles triumph.
Pota overcame Megumi Abe (Japan) in the final of the 2014 Belgium Open and now two years later in the Czech Republic, Pota will be aiming to beat Mikhailova to a second World Tour title.
Sabine Winter (Germany) and Matilda Ekholm (Sweden) are the other European players in the top ten.
Sato Heads Japanese Stronghold
Just as at the 2016 ITTF World Tour Bulgaria Open, Japanese star Hitomi Sato has been seeded first for the Czech Open.
There was some expectancy to see Sato perform well at last week’s Bulgaria Open, but an elimination by Saki Shibata (Japan) in the round of 16 left the 19-year-old disappointed.
Sato won the Women’s Singles title at the 2016 Croatia Open earlier in the year, beating fellow Japanese players Ai Fukuhara, Mima Ito and Miu Hirano in the process.
Yuka Ishigaki heads into the tournament full of confidence after securing the Women’s Singles crown in Bulgaria, and will be looking to keep up the good form in Olomouc.
The runner up from the Bulgaria Open was Misaki Morizono and she will also participate in this week’s competition alongside Yui Hamamoto, Natsumi Nakahata and Honoka Hashimoto in a strong Japanese line-up.
Potential Surprise Packages
Other players to look out for include Puerto Rico’s Adriana Diaz and the host nation’s Hana Matelova.
15-year-old Diaz has become a superstar in Puerto Rico after she became the first female Table Tennis player from her country to compete in an Olympic Games. Be assured of seeing exciting play from her regardless of the final result.
Matelova is the highest ranked Czech player taking part at the Open (seeded 18th); her previous victories against Maria Dolgikh (17th) and Miyu Maeda (13th) leave Matelova well placed to do some potential damage to the higher ranked players.