by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Kasumi Ishikawa, the top seed, beat Chinese Taipei’s Cheng I-Ching, the no.3 seed (11-9, 4-11, 3-11, 11-6, 4-11, 11-8, 11-6), before in a similar testing duel, Hu Melek, the no.11 seed, eventually overcame the stonewall defensive skills of Germany’s Han Ying, the no.2 seed (11-8, 14-16, 11-9, 8-11, 7-11, 11-9, 11-9).
A gruelling contest, the duel between Hu Melek and Han Ying was even more demanding than only previous meeting on the international scene. Just under one month ago, they had met at the quarter-final stage of the Women’s Singles event at the Liebherr 2016 European Championships in Budapest; on that occasion Hu Melek, who progressed to win the title, overcame Han Ying in six close games (11-7, 9-11, 11-9, 11-8, 8-11, 11-9).
“I’m in very good shape since the European Championships but I try not to think about that; I just try to focus game by game. Patience is always the key, trying to attack at the right time with my forehand with either power or spin”, Hu Melek
Success again for Hu Melek, for Kasumi Ishikawa there was an air of revenge.
It was the third time that she had met Cheng I-Ching on this year’s ITTF World Tour; in March Kasumi Ishikawa had won in six games in Kuwait (11-9, 7-11, 11-9, 11-6, 7-11, 11-6) but more recently in Japan, Cheng I-Ching had prevailed in a full distance seven games contest (9-11, 1-11, 11-9, 11-9, 11-9, 8-11, 11-4).
Contests between Kasumi Ishikawa and Cheng I-Ching are becoming some of the most enthralling on the international scene.
Overall, since they first encountered each other in the opening round of the Under 21 Women’s Singles event at the 2017 ITTF World Tour Korean Open in Seongnam, when Cheng I-Ching prevailed (11-8, 11-4, 12-10, 6-11, 11-8), they have now met on 17 occasions. Kasumi Ishikawa is in the ascendancy with ten wins.
However the intriguing factor is in the past two years, in contests in 2015 and 2016, it is now honours even; three wins apiece.
In Stockholm it was for Kasumi Ishikawa her 20th ITTF World Tour Women’s Singles semi-final, her eighth win; for Cheng I-Ching her fifth such appearance her fourth defeat.
Meanwhile, for Hu Melek, it was her third such excursion, her second win; for Han Ying her eighth penultimate round duel, her fifth such defeat.