by Simon Daish
Top seed Kasumi Ishikawa was no stranger to ITTF World Tour titles prior to the 2016 Swedish Open final, having won Women’s Singles gold medals on five occasions at previous events. With her defeat of Hu Melek in the Stockholm final Ishikawa has now added a sixth triumph to her collection, becoming the most successful Japanese player to win in the category.
Both Ishikawa and Hu reached the Swedish Open final in dramatic style with respective seventh game victories against Cheng I-Ching and Han Ying in the last four, but there was to be no such nail-biting drama in the final as Ishikawa stormed to a fairly comfortable win.
The only previous meeting between Ishikawa and Hu took place eight years ago in the Under 21 competition of the 2008 TMS Open in Singapore and saw the latter of the two players come out on top. Much has changed since then, however, and Ishikawa made her presence well known to her opponent right from the start of the final at the 2016 Swedish Open as she secured a 3-0 lead over Hu by the conclusion of game three.
Hu astounded many of the sport’s followers with her capture of the 2016 European Championships Women’s Singles title in the early weeks of October, and the 11th seed for the Swedish Open was able to pull herself back into the final following her win in game four. However, despite Hu maintaining her fighting spirit it was the No.1 seed Ishikawa who prevailed in the fifth end to bring the final to a close (12-10, 11-4, 11-6, 11-13, 11-5).
“I’m very happy! Before the Olympic Games I trained for a long time so afterwards I took some time off to rest and relax. Now I have been training for a full month and this is my first tournament since then. I was really fast today and with a good combination of serve and attack I managed to win this match. I’m looking forward to the Grand Finals in Doha. I don’t have any expectations for the Grand Finals other than it will be good to play and I hope to perform as well as possible” – Kasumi Ishikawa (Japan) after claiming the 2016 Swedish Open title.
16 individual players from Japan have picked up ITTF World Tour Women’s Singles titles, and Kasumi Ishikawa’s triumph over Hu Melek in Stockholm has now put her ahead of fellow compatriots Ai Fukuhara and Sayaka Hirano in the gold medals table who each have five titles to their names in the category.
Sunday 20th November: Women’s Singles – Main Draw