by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
She had to put aside the result of one day earlier when she had extracted defeat from the jaws of victory; secondly she had to face a higher rated opponent. She faced Japan’s Honoka Hashimoto, a defensive player with a classic style.
Presently Honoka Hashimoto is listed at no.25 on the Women’s World Rankings; Barbora Balazova is named at no.77; against the odds Barbora Balazova emerged successful in five games (11-7, 12-10, 11-7, 12-14, 13-11).
The result meant first place in the group. In her opening contest, the previous day, she had been beaten in seven games by Poland’s Kinga Stefanska, named at no.125 in the global order (11-13, 9-11, 11-9, 4-11, 13-11, 11-6, 11-8).
It was a contest in which she spurned opportunity after opportunity.
“Against Kinga, I led three-one and 10-7; today I had nothing to lose, I was playing a better player; I decided just to play and enjoy the match”, Barbora Balazova
Success for Kinga Stefanska; on the morning of the second day of play, it was defeat. She was beaten in six games by Honoka Hashimoto (11-8, 11-6, 11-9, 7-11, 6-11, 11-5).
Thus on games ratio, it was first place for Barbora Balazova (7:5), with King Stefanska second (6:7) and Honoka Hashimoto (5:6) in third spot.
However, one wondered if Barbora Balazova may have missed the opportunity once again. Leading three games to nil against Honoka Hashimoto, she held match points at 10-9 and 12-11 in the fourth; she lost both and in the fifth only won one of the first four points. However, to her credit, she kept mind, body and soul together to secure the fifth game.
“I like playing against defenders, some more than others; today I tried to keep changing the tempo of the match. I tried to make her feel uncomfortable, sometimes push the ball hard with backspin rather than always keep attacking; also I focused my top spin play towards the middle”, Barbora Balazova
A surprise win, for her neighbour, the Czech Republic’s Hana Matelova, there was an even bigger success.
Having beaten Chinese Taipei’s Cheng Hsien-Tu on the first day of play, she caused Japan more pain; she overcame Yui Hamamoto, World ranked no.16 and the highest rated player on qualification duty.
Hana Matelova won in six games (7-11, 4-11, 11-7, 12-10, 11-6, 11-5).