by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Furthermore, no doubt she is more than pleased that her name does not appear amongst the top eight.
Overall 20 players on duty, those seeded no.9 to no.20 must play in the group stage; four groups, players finishing in first and second places in each group advance to the main draw where they join the top eight names.
Four years ago at the Volkswagen 2012 Women’s World Cup, Elizabeta Samara was the runner up; the only non-Asian player ever to reach the final of the tournament which first saw the light of day in 1996 in Hong Kong.
Staged in the Chinese city of Huangshi, the organisation was somewhat different than that of today; a total of 15 players plus the winner of the Intercontinental Cup, took part in the main competition. Everyone competed in the initial stage. Four groups, players finishing in first and second places in each group advanced to the quarter-finals.
Elizabeta Samara could not have made a worse possible start! She was beaten in four straight games by Germany’s Wu Jiaduo (11-8, 11-6, 11-3, 11-9).
Like looked bleak but results worked in her favour. She recovered to beat Hong Kong’s Jiang Huajun (5-11, 11-8, 12-10, 11-8, 11-13, 11-5), before causing a major upset by overcoming Singapore’s Feng Tianwei, the no.2 seed (11-8, 9-11, 12-10, 11-8, 11-8).
Wu Jiaduo lost to both Feng Tianwei (11-6, 13-11, 11-5, 9-11, 11-7) and Jiang Huajun (5-11, 11-8, 12-10, 11-8, 11-13, 11-5); in her opening match of the day Feng Tianwei had accounted for Jiang Huajun (5-11, 11-8, 12-10, 11-8, 11-13, 11-5).
Thus Feng Tianwei and Elizabeta Samara finished with two wins apiece, for Jiang Huajun and Wu Jiaduo it was one win each; the fact that Elizabeta Samara had beaten Feng Tianwei, gave her top spot in the group.
She progressed to beat Viktoria Pavlovich of Belarus (11-5, 8-11, 11-7, 11-6) and Spain’s Shen Yanfei (6-11, 11-9, 13-11, 11-8, 5-11, 9-11, 11-9), before losing to China’s Liu Shiwen in the final (11-6, 11-7, 11-3, 11-3).
Since that date, Elizabeta Samara has won three ITTF World Tour Women’s Singles titles.
She won in Brazil in 2013, in 2014 in the Czech Republic and last year in Qatar as well as being crowned European champion in Ekaterinburg.
Now in 2016 she is due for a title; maybe if she loses her first match it could be in Philadelphia?