by Simon Daish
Hitomi Sato has kept her title bid on track in Minsk following her successful effort in the last eight of the competition.
Seeded first for the Women’s Singles event Hitomi Sato carries the expectation to deliver positive results at the 2017 Belarus Open, and her victory over Kyoka Kato (12-10, 7-11, 9-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-5) is a statement of intent from the top seed as Sato continues to demonstrate high level performances at the Palace of Tennis.
However, a difficult task lies ahead for Hitomi Sato with her next encounter set to feature Saki Shibata as her next opponent.
Saki Shibata is the defending champion in the Women’s Singles category but she was made to work very hard in her quarter-final match at this year’s tournament, coming back from three games down to beat the surprise package of the competition Olga Kulikova of Russia in seven games (10-12, 12-14, 6-11, 11-5, 12-10, 11-7, 11-5).
“Olga had already won two encounters before the match, so I prepared myself for some real struggle. I couldn’t pick the right tactics during the three games that I lost, but then I set the play and changed the situation. I’d like to compete in another finals and prove my champion’s title”, Saki Shibata.
The other semi-finals tie will be played out between the second seed Honoka Hashimoto and the unseeded Takako Nagao.
Victory across five games over Maki Shiomi sent Honoka Hashimoto into the last four (11-8, 11-5, 9-11, 11-9, 11-8), while Takako Nagao ousted the no.4 seed Miyu Kato from the competition (11-5, 9-11, 10-12, 11-4, 11-5, 11-9).
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