by Simon Daish
Positive Start for Russia
Olga Vorobyova (Russia) is one player to have already sealed her spot in the main draw following her victories over Wang Yi-Ju (Chinese Taipei) and Katsiaryna Baravok (Belarus) in her group of three. Following her victories, Vorobyova stated that she was happy with her opening day performance:
“I have already taken the first place in my group, thus getting into the main draw. If I beat the higher-seeded players, well, that would be a good result for me.” – Olga Vorobyova (Russia).
Other Russians are also through but there are still matches to be played to see who will top the groups.
Anna Blazhko is currently top of group 8 after beating Norway’s Ilka Doval and Chinese Taipei’s Lin Chia-Hsuan; a victory over Maya Kunats (Belarus) on day two will be enough to see Blazhko progress in first.
Also ending the day placed first in their respective groups are two more Russian players: Valentina Sabitova and Antonina Savelyeva.
Sabitova saw off fellow compatriot Anna Dmitrieva in six ends, before establishing her presence at the top of group 9 with a victory against the host nation’s Marharyta Baltushite.
Savelyeva started group 11 well, beating Solomiya Brateyko (Ukraine) in her opening match, and the day continued to improve for Savelyeva after she registered a straight games win over Daria Trigolos (Belarus).
Continuing to Impress
With the 2016 Czech Open finishing just a handful of days back, there has been little time to rest for some of the contestants in Minsk. But the transition from one World Tour event to another appears to have flown smoothly for a few players in particular.
Maki Shiomi (Japan) finished as the Women’s Singles runner-up in the Czech Republic, so there was an expectancy to see the teenager qualify from her group at the Belarus Open.
The Japanese player performed well in her first match against Nadezhda Bogdanova (Belarus) sealing a 4-1 win, but was given a scare when Ekaterina Guseva (Russia) came to within a game of a dramatic recovery. Round of 32 place secured, and a win over Russia’s Svetlana Mokhnacheva will seal top spot in group 10 for Shiomi.
Two more players looking to keep up the good form are the Under 21 champions from the Bulgaria and Czech Opens: Saki Shibata (Japan) and Yoon Hyobin (Korea Republic).
Shibata won her group of three with success against Daria Chernova (Russia) and Maryia Kuchuk (Belarus), while Yoon also fended off challenges from Russian and Belarusian opponents, defeating Olga Kulikova and Hanna Patseyeva.
More Still to Come
While seven groups have concluded, there are another five with matches to settle.
With each victory carrying two points and a defeat providing one point, every game counts and potentially the players currently sitting second in their groups could still face elimination.
Group 12 could provide plenty of drama and may require a games difference count back to see who advances.
Lin Chia-Chih (Chinese Taipei) will end the group with at least five points on the board with a sixth up for grabs with a win, but victories from home players Alina Arlouskaya and Kastiaryna Vakhliayeva could see three rivals tied at the top of the table.
Wednesday 7th September: Women’s Singles – Qualification Stage