11 Sep 2016

The race for the 2016 Belarus Open Women's Singles title is starting to enter the home straight. For the host nation the dream of securing the trophy for the first time since 2008 may well become a reality, after a spectacular recovery put Viktoria Pavlovich through to the last four.

by Simon Daish

Belarusian Delight After Comeback Triumph

Pavlovich faced Japan’s Maki Shiomi at the quarter-finals stage, with both players having very much their own motivational goals.

16-year-old Shiomi was the runner-up at the 2016 Czech Open and was looking to build upon that success in Minsk, while Pavlovich (38) on the other hand was the final competitor from Belarus remaining in the category and so she understood the pressure and expectancy of the home crowd heading into the tie.

The match didn’t begin too well for Pavlovich as she fell 0-2 behind to the talented Japanese star, but game three provided a glimmer of hope moving forward in the tie for the Belarusian.

Shiomi then looked almost certain to wrap up the result following a strong performance in the fourth end. However, there was still one more game win required for Shiomi to claim the victory; it never arrived.

Three consecutive ends fell in Pavlovich’s favour to complete a fantastic recovery and book her place in the last four (8-11, 10-12, 11-7, 7-11, 11-8, 13-11, 8-11).

“The match has been really tough. When I was losing 1-3 in sets, I told myself to play each ball incessantly, till the end. I did lack confidence and worried a lot. In the final set, I was able to handle the pressure and win the game” – Viktoria Pavlovich (Belarus).

Yuka Ishigaki (Japan) will be Pavlovich’s next opponent after the 2016 Asarel Bulgaria Open winner moved beyond the quarter-finals, beating Yana Noskova (Russia) across five ends.

Strong Day for Japan

Despite a slight setback for Japan from Maki Shiomi’s exit to Viktoria Pavlovich, the passage to the semi-finals for Yuka Ishigaki was also secured by two more of the country’s players: Hitomi Sato and Saki Shibata.

Sato, who is the first seed for the Women’s Singles tournament, was forced into deuce in two games but a comfortable 4-0 scoreline followed as Valentina Sabitova failed to take her chances when they counted the most. “I played quite confidently in this match,” said Hitomi Sato. “Now, I’m looking forward to the next one in the semi-finals. I’m glad I could make it this far.”

However, Shibata had a much tougher time qualifying for the next round than Sato, and similar to Pavlovich’s match against Shiomi, Shibata required all seven games in her battle with Adriana Diaz (Puerto Rico).

Unlike the other seven game thriller in the quarter-finals, the comeback from Diaz didn’t result in success but it did provide a stern test for Shibata who stayed positive even when the match was brought level at three games apiece. Shibata put the previous games behind her and found her way to the win.

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Saturday 10th September: Women’s Singles – Main Event

World Tour Belarus Open Viktoria Pavlovich