by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Maria Dolgikh and Polina Mikhailova form an experienced partnership but when that topic is in question, there is no player on duty in Budapest who has more experience than Ni Xialian; furthermore, could Sara de Nutte have found a better partner?
In 1983, Ni Xialian won the Mixed Doubles title at the Tokyo World Championships in partnership with Guo Yuehua; now over three decades later she underlined the fact that her pen-hold grip style of play adds to a doubles pairing; especially when confronting defenders.
The fact that should does not play powerful top spin strokes and keeps the ball on the table both upsets the rhythm and pressurises the backspin artist.
Defeat for the top seeds, there was also defeat for the third seeds in the second round of proceedings; Poland’s Katarzyna Grzybowska and Natalia Partyka suffered at the hands of the partnership formed by Slovenia’s Alex Galic and Switzerland’s Rachel Moret (13-11, 7-11, 13-11, 13-11, 5-11, 11-5).
Surprises and there was one more; Sweden’s Matilda Ekholm in harness with the host nation’s Georgina Pota, the no.8 seeds, experienced defeat when facing the partnership comprising the Slovak Republic’s Barbora Balazova and the Czech Republic’s Hana Matelova. They were beaten in six games (7-11, 11-5, 13-11, 11-6, 6-11, 11-7).
The end of the road for three notable pairs, for two others with title hopes, it was success and a place in the quarter-finals.
Germany’s Shan Xiaona and Petrissa Solja, the no.2 seeds, beat the French combination of Oceane Guisnel and Stéphanie Loueillette, the no.14 seeds (11-5, 11-4, 8-11, 11-6, 15-13); Romania’s Daniela Dodean and Elizabeta Samara overcame Portugal’s Fu Yu and Shao Jieni, the no.10 seeds (11-9, 11-3, 11-8, 11-7).
“We were too confident after easily winning the opening games, so we lost our focus in the third. However we did not change the tactics and we had control in the fourth game. The French were better on service and return and that caused a little problem for us”, Petrissa Solja.
Success for Romania but there was also defeat; Camila Iacob and Bernadette Szocs, the no.14 seeds, departed at the hands of Hungary’s Dora Madarasz and Szandra Pergel, the no.5 seeds (11-4, 11-4, 11-13, 11-9, 10-12, 11-1).
“In the second game my thoughts drifted away a bit, but luckily Dora was very focused”, Szandra Pergel
Victory and defeat for Romania; alas for Spain it was just the latter. Galia Dvorak and Maria Xiao, the no.11 seeds, lost to Germany’s Kristin Silbereisen and Sabine Winter, the no.7 seeds (11-9, 11-9, 11-8, 10-12, 11-6); Russia’s Yana Noskova and Yulia Prokhorova, the no.6 seeds, ended the hopes of Sara Ramirez and Zhang Xuan (11-13, 13-11, 11-8, 11-7, 11-7).
“We struggled with the new balls. We have not adjusted to them yet”, Yana Noskova
At the quarter-final stage, Sarah de Nutte and Ni Xialian face Dora Madarasz and Szandra Pergel; Kristin Silbereisen and Sabine Winter confront Alex Galic and Rachel Moret. In the opposite half of the draw Daniela Monteiro-Dodean and Elizabeta Samara oppose Yana Noskova and Yulia Prohorova; Shan Xiaona and Petrissa Solja meet Barbora Balazova and Hana Matelova.
The quarter-final and semi-final matches will be played on Saturday 22nd October.