28 Apr 2017

A qualification stage exit earlier in the year in Belarus, Laura Gasnier of France was the player to cause the biggest surprise as proceedings commenced in the opening round of the Women’s Singles event at the 2017 ITTF Challenge Slovenia Open in Otocec.

On the morning of Friday 28th April, the 23 year old recovered from a two games to nil deficit to beat the Czech Republic’s Iveta Vacenovska, the no.10 seed (9-11, 10-12, 11-5, 11-5, 11-6, 11-7).

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

It was a most creditable performance against an opponent of considerably greater experience; now 31 years old, most creditably Iveta Vacenovska reached the quarter-final stage of the Women’s Singles event at H.I.S. 2009 World Championships in Yokohama.

Impressive from Laura Gasnier, it was the same from Puerto Rico’s Melanie Diaz, Korea’s Lee Eunhye and India’s Madhurika Patkar; all players who like Laura Gasnier had been required to compete in the qualification tournament.

Melanie Diaz, who had caused a surprise of note by beating Russia’s Ekaterina Guseva to book her main draw place, continued her quite astounding run of form.

Never previously beyond the qualification phase at either an ITTF World Tour or ITTF Challenge tournament, she accounted for Austria’s Amelie Solja, the no.20 seed and listed at no.94 on the current Men’s World Rankings (12-14, 12-10, 11-6, 11-6, 11-7), a player who has caused more than one adversary consternation with her close to the table blocking style of play.

The combination racket with one side long pimpled rubber has disturbed the rhythm of many an opponent; not Melanie who perhaps had an antidote. She uses short pimpled rubber on the forehand, smooth reversed rubber on the back; she is similar the China’s Cao Lisi, the player who completed a clean sweep of titles at the 2008 World Junior Championships and to the now retired Singaporean, Li Jiawei.

“I am so happy to be able to maintain the performance of yesterday, now, winning against a top 100 World ranked player is the best win from my entire career! I was very confident and relaxed I didn´t even look for the opponent for next match.” Melanie Diaz

Success against expectations for Melanie Diaz; it was the same from Lee Eunhye and Madhurika Patkar. Lee Eunhye beat Switzerland’s Rachel Moret, the no.27 seed (11-7, 9-11, 11-7, 11-8, 12-10); Madhurika Patkar defeated the host nation’s Manca Fajmut, the no.32 seed (11-8, 11-7, 11-8, 11-6).

Surprises in the top half of the draw but not where the leading names were concerned; Japan’s Hitomi Sato, the no.1 seed, beat Krittwika Roy, like Madhurika Patkar from India (11-8, 11-5, 9-11, 11-5, 11-6), whilst Romania’s Elizabeta Samara, the no.3 seed, returning from surgery, accounted for Japan’s Miyuu Kihara.

“I felt very nervous in my opening game after a three months absence from the international stage. Also playing with a new ball doesn´t make it any easier. I am totally recovered after my knee injury but still feel I need to work more on physical matters in order to be 100 per cent fit. I hope to become better match by match and get in the best shape until the World Championships.” Elizabeta Samara

Opening round wins for Hitomi Sato and Elizabeta Samara; it was the same for Austria’s Sofia Polcanova, the no.7 seed and Thailand’s Suthasini Sawettabut, the no.8 seed.

Sofia Polcanova beat the Czech Republic’s Kristyna Stefcova (11-3, 11-9, 9-11, 11-8, 11-3); Suthasini Sawettabut overcame Daria Trigiolos of Belarus (11-7, 11-6, 11-4, 11-7).

Challenge Series 2017 Slovenian Open Melanie Diaz Lee Eunhye Laura Gasnier Madhurika Patkar

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