By Neha Aggarwal
Safir International Men’s Singles Elite Class – Nittaku Cup
Last year at the 2016 Safir International Tournament, former Swedish international player, Jens Lundquist, broke the five-year winning streak that was recorded by Xu Hui of club Eslövs AI in the men’s singles competition. However, this year Xu Hui got his revenge. He defeated Jens Lundquist in a very close match in the men’s singles semi finals winning in five games (12-10, 6-11, 9-11, 11-8, 11-5).
The finals was more like a walk in the park. Xu Hui defeated Japan’s unseeded player Masaki Kakitsuka 3-0 (13-11, 11-8, 11-9). Kakitsuka was not among the seeded players, thus he surprised everyone reaching the finals.
“This was my seventh time here and it’s good to be back on the throne again,” said Xu Hui, who is the record holder in number of victories after his sixth win.
On the other side, Japan’s Masaki Kakitsuka beat teammate Yusuke Watanabe in a smooth victory 3-0 (11-5, 11-6, 11-6).
Safir International Women’s Singles Elite Class – Nittaku Cup
In the women’s final, the big favorite Maki Shiomi did not manage to create a double victory. On 23rd February 2017, she won the Junior Girls Singles of the ITTF World Junior Circuit Swedish Junior and Cadet Open. However, on 24th February, she met the defender Asuka Kira, who proved to be the better off. Asuka Kira won in a thrilling 3-2 encounter (11-4, 7-11, 11-9, 9-11, 11-9).
The match witnessed a lot of long rallies, a classic offense versus defense game. But the defender from Japan often ended the rallies with a counter attack surprising Maki Shiomi on many occasions.
The winner, Asuka Kira, however has different ambitions. She said, “I have no ambitions going to the national team. I’m studying at the university and my next goal is playing Tokyo Open. I’m very surprised winning this title, but I had a strong belief and very good confidence.”
The Men’s and Women’s singles class 1 competition along with Junior boys and girls singles Under-21, Under-18, Under-16, Under-15, Under-14 matches will be played on 25th and 26th February 2017.
Men’s Singles Elite Class
Xu Hui, Eslövs AI beat Masaki Kakitsuka, Japan 3-0 (13-11, 11-8, 11-9)
Xu Hui, Eslövs AI beat Jens Lundquist, Söderhamns UIF 3-2 (12-10, 6-11, 9-11, 11-8, 11-5)
Masaki Kakitsuka, Japan beat Yusuke Watanabe, Japan 3-0 (11-5, 11-6, 11-6)
Xu Hui, Eslövs AI beat Shunsuke Togami, Japan 3-2 (11-3, 11-5, 11-9)
Jens Lundquist, Söderhamns UIF beat Vladimir Sidorenko, Ryssland 3-1 (11-9, 6-11, 11-3, 11-6)
Masaki Kakitsuka, Japan beat Kakeru Sone, Japan 3-1 (8-11, 11-5, 11-9, 11-6)
Yusuke Watanabe, Japan beat Helshan Weerasinghe, Eslövs AI 3-0 (11-8, 11-8, 11-9)
Women’s Singles Elite Class
Asuka Kira, Japan beat Maki Shiomi, Japan 3-2 (11-4, 7-11, 11-9, 9-11, 11-9)
Maki Shiomi, Japan beat Nami Kamada, Japan 3-2 (11-2, 7-11, 11-8, 6-11, 12-10)
Asuka Kira, Japan beat Adriana Diaz, Puerto Rico 3-1 (11-8, 4-11, 11-5, 11-9)