18 Mar 2017

Saturday 18th March produced another exciting day of table tennis action at the 2017 ITTF Challenge Belgosstrakh Belarus Open as the Under 21 tournaments drew to a close and the four senior events reached the latter stages of the competitions with just one day left to be played out in the city of Minsk.

by Simon Daish

Saki Shibata was crowned the Under 21 Women’s Singles champion in the afternoon session of play on Day Two, improving on her second place finished achieved in the category at last year’s event.

Top seed for the event Japan’s Saki Shibata saw off fellow countrywoman Kyoka Kato in the final with a powerful 3-0 victory giving Shibata the title (11-9, 11-8, 11-6).

The Under 21 Men’s Singles tournament produced a shock champion as fourth seed Cristian Pletea lifted the trophy.

Cristian Pletea trailed the no.1 seed from Japan Yuto Kizukuri at the start of the final, but a positive attitude enabled the Romanian player to fight back and claim three consecutive games to prevail in four ends (11-13, 12-10, 11-6, 11-7).

One of the standout competitors of the Women’s Singles draw on the opening day of the tournament was Russia’s Olga Kulikova, who condemned the third seed Misaki Morizono to Round of 32 exit.

Olga Kulikova carried her terrific confidence levels into Day Two of the 2017 Belarus Open and picked up another big upset as she eliminated 14th seed Yulia Prokhorova in the last 16, yet it was not to be for Olga Kulikova as she lost out in the deciding game to Saki Shibata in quarter-finals (10-12, 12-14, 6-11, 11-5, 12-10, 11-7, 11-5).

Alongside Saki Shibata there are three further Japanese representatives who have booked their places in the semi-finals with Hitomi Sato, Honoka Hashimoto and Takako Nagao all claiming victories in the last eight.

Fine performance from Vladimir Samsonov on Day Two (Photo: Masha Kozhdan)

Hopes of a title win for the host nation were given another boost in the Men’s Singles category, after Vladimir Samsonov continued to impress on the second day of the main competition.

Vladimir Samsonov registered a comfortable 4-0 success in his quarter-finals tie against Viktor Yefimov of Ukraine (11-5, 11-6, 11-7, 11-7), and the Belarusian athlete is yet to drop a game at the tournament.

Sun Chia-Hung of Chinese Taipei is next up for Vladimir Samsonov following his win over Tomas Polansky (11-5, 11-6, 6-11, 6-11, 14-12, 9-11, 11-4), and the other players to move through to the last four are Poland’s Wang Zengyi and Russia’s Grigory Vlasov.

Watch the 2017 ITTF Challenge Belgosstrakh Belarus Open unfold, follow the action live with itTV


Challenge Series Vladimir Samsonov Saki Shibata Cristian Pletea Olga Kulikova

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