by Simon Daish
Earlier in the day the other contestant from Ukraine, Ganna Gaponova, surrendered a commanding lead before going on to exit the Women’s Singles draw against Sweden’s Matilda Ekholm. However, Tetyana Bilenko would not share the same disappointing outcome as her fellow compatriot: the 33-year-old moved into the next stage of the competition.
Bilenko made a quick start out of the blocks in her encounter with Varobeva. She established a two-nil lead with little difficulty, and while her opponent from Russia managed to put a game win on the scoreboard with her capture of the third game, it was no.13 seed Bilenko who emerged from the tie victorious after she claimed back-to-back games to seal her spot in the round of 16 (11-8, 11-4, 6-11, 11-4, 12-10).
“I had to be really focused on this first round match as the last time we met she defeated me in the Russian League. The difference this time I mixed the spin on the ball a lot more and my attacking game was working really well. It was good preparation for the next round”, Tetyana Bilenko.
Olga Varobeva wasn’t the only Russian competitor to make an exit from the bottom half of the draw as Valentina Sabitova let an early lead slip before allowing Li Fen of Sweden to go on and steal a 4-1 victory in her favour (9-11, 11-3, 11-5, 11-6, 20-18).
Yet, not all hope of a Russian champion is lost: Maria Dolgikh’s six games success against Adina Diaconu (8-11, 13-11, 9-11, 11-4, 11-8, 11-7) is keeping the dream of winning Women’s Singles silverware alive for Dolgikh and Russian Table Tennis fans.
Just as seen in the top half of the draw, another three players from China managed to progress into the round of 16 with Wen Jia, Sheng Dandan and Li Jiayi all producing positive results.
Wen Jia and Sheng Dandan were both on the right side of four-nil results picking up respective victories over Austria’s Amelie Solja (11-4, 11-9, 12-10, 11-8) and Chinese Taipei’s Chen Szu-Yu (11-9, 12-10, 11-4, 11-6), while Li Jiayi arguably claimed the biggest scalp of the three players from China after she eliminated the second seed from the Netherlands Li Jie in five ends (11-9, 8-11, 11-2, 11-7, 11-8).