by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
The no.4 seed, Honoka Hashimoto beat Hong Kong’s Doo Hoi Kem, the top seed (11-8, 13-11, 11-8, 13-15, 11-2); she was followed by Hitomi Sato, the no.2 seed, who accounted for Singapore’s Zeng Jian, the no.3 seed (10-12, 11-6, 11-4, 11-7, 11-8).
Success for Honoka Hashimoto, although contrary to status, was no great upset; she had played Doo Hoi Kem on one previous occasion in a World ranking tournament and she had enjoyed success. She had prevailed when the met in the Women’s Singles event at the 2016 ITTF World Tour Zagreb Open.
Similarly, the vote was in favour of Hitomi Sato against Zeng Jian on what was their first ever meeting on the international scene in a Women’s Singles event. However, in ITTF World Tour Under 21 Women’s Singles competitions they were no strangers.
In 2015 in Japan and at the Grand Finals, the verdict had gone the way of Hitomi Sato, before last year Zeng Jian emerged successful in Kuwait and in Poland.
However, most pertinently on their third meeting of the year, the most recent, Hitomi Sato had emerged successful; she had won when the two met in the penultimate round in Slovenia.
Impressive wins for Honoka Hashimoto and Hitomi Sato; also it was victory for the art of defence; could that continue to be a problem for players from Hong Kong and Singapore?
Pertinently, neither association has a male or female backspin player within their ranks.