by Simon Daish
Ekholm, who entered the event as the tenth seed, caused a massive upset after beating the top seed Hitomi Sato (Japan) in straight games.
Sato is ranked 32 positions above Ekholm in August’s World Rankings list, but the teenager couldn’t keep up with her opponent in their last 16 encounter as Ekholm thundered her way to victory.
The beginning of the match was actually fairly close with a difference of just two points between the players, but Ekholm took her game to new heights and there was nothing Sato could do to stop her (11-9, 13-11, 11-6, 11-7).
Monaco’s Yang Xiaoxin ensured another Japanese player would fall at the quarter-finals stage, as she overcame Sakura Mori in the sixth end.
Mori had shocked Polina Mikhailova (Russia) in the previous round, and she went 1-2 ahead against Yang as another upset looked on the horizon. But Yang found her way back into the match, taking the next three ends (13-11, 6-11, 5-11, 11-7, 11-9, 11-9) to book a semi-finals tie with Matilda Ekholm.
Two Out, but Two Remain
Despite Hitomi Sato and Sakura Mori both exiting the competition, Japan still has two players left at the Open after Maki Shiomi and Honoka Hashimoto advanced.
Shiomi went through a match of two halves, being forced to make a comeback from 0-2 down against Germany’s Kristin Silbereisen before winning four games in a row to progress to the semi-finals (9-11, 6-11, 11-6, 11-6, 11-8, 11-2) and consequently condemn Silbereisen to defeat.
Hashimoto was up against Song Maeum (Korea Republic) in the other tie. Maeum had conquered the ninth seed Sabine Winter (Germany) in the Round of 16, and the following all-Asian quarter-final produced some spectacular Table Tennis.
The opening four games between Hashimoto and Song were fiercely fought out by both players, with the first and fourth ends going to deuce before Hashimoto sealed her last four spot in style (14-12, 9-11, 11-9, 10-12, 11-4, 11-8).
Victory in Sight
Just two more rounds remain in the Women’s Singles event, and the anticipation of the final day is growing.
Matilda Ekholm and Honoka Hashimoto are the higher ranked contestants in their respective semi-finals, but with Yang Xiaoxin’s impressive defensive abilities and Maki Shiomi looking to extend her wonderful run in the tournament, anything can happen.
Saturday 3rd September: Women’s Singles – Main Draw