by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Doo Hoi Kem, the top seed, was beaten by a player brim-full of confidence after last week being crowned champion at the DHS Lausanne Open in Switzerland.
Consistent top spin strokes, a step back from the table, proved once again the winning formula for Sweden’s Matilda Ekholm, the no.4 seed; she emerged successful in six games (11-8, 11-7, 5-11, 11-9, 8-11, 11-3).
Success for Matilda Ekholm contrary expectations, arguably it was the same for Japan’s Sakura Mori, another player who possesses a great a deal of current self-belief. Earlier in the tournament, she won the Under 21 Women’s Singles title.
At the semi-final stage of the Women’s Singles event, she beat Ng Wing Nam in a full distance seven games duel (13-11, 12-10, 10-12, 9-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-6).
Against the odds, not according to seeding, Sakura Mori was the no.6 seed, Ng Wing Nam occupied the no.8 seeded position in the competition.
However, arguably it was a surprise. In the two prior meetings on the international scene, the decision had always finished in favour of Ng Wing Nam.
Furthermore, neither of the two meetings had required a deciding game. Both in 2013, both in ITTF World Tour Under 21 Women’s Singles contests where matches are best of five games; Ng Wang Nam had emerged successful in Korea and then later in the year in China.
It is the first time that Sakura Mori has reached an ITTF World Tour Women’s Singles final; for Matilda Ekholm it her third. In 2013 she was the runner up in Croatia, beaten by Korea’s Lee Dasom in the final, one year earlier she had won in Morocco when overcoming Spain’s Sara Ramirez in the title deciding contest.