19 Mar 2017

Hitomi Sato has beaten Honoka Hashimoto to the Women's Singles title at the 2017 ITTF Challenge Belgosstrakh Belarus Open in Minsk, following a hard fought out battle between the first and second seeded players in the final (11-9, 11-2, 11-8, 5-11, 11-4).

by Simon Daish

The journey to the final wasn’t straightforward for Hitomi Sato having been drawn to face a number of difficult encounters along the way, but victories over Lisa Lung, Marina Matsuzawa, Kyoka Kato and Saki Shibata saw the no.1 seed rightfully claim her spot in the title showdown.

Over in the lower half of the draw Honoka Hashimoto also went up against a tough run of opposition including a fixture against surprise semi-finalist Takako Nagao but in a similar fashion to her fellow finalist, Hashimoto calmly negotiated her matches leading up to the final to set up an exciting finale to the competition.

Very little could separate Hitomi Sato and Honoka Hashimoto in the opening stages of the final as a two point margin gave the top seeded competitor the early lead, but then all of a sudden Sato found another level in her play and stormed into a two games advantage.

Then the scoreline got even more positive for Sato as her capture of game three resulted in a comfortable 3-0 lead in the tie.

Staring down the jaws of defeat Hashimoto needed to find a way to pull herself back into the final and there appeared to be a small glimmer of hope for the second seed when she picked up the fourth end, however, before long the match was over as Sato claimed game five to seal a 4-1 victory (11-9, 11-2, 11-8, 5-11, 11-4).

“I’m very glad that I’m the winner. It was a real pleasure to compete in the finals. Normally, Honoka (Hashimoto) is my teammate, so we know each other well. I like to play with defenders and know how to do that. I have good conditions for attacks”, Hitomi Sato.

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Challenge Series Hitomi Sato Honoka Hashimoto

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