Tournaments

04 May 2017

Twice the winner, twice the runner up, once a semi-finalist; such is the record of Japan’s Saki Shibata this year.

On the ITTF Challenge Series in Under 21 Women’s Singles events, she won in Belarus and Thailand, whilst one week ago being the runner up in Slovenia. On the Seamaster ITTF World Tour she was a semi-finalist in Qatar, in Korea the silver medallist.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

At the 2017 ITTF Challenge Zagreb Open it will be none of the options.

The Under 21 Women’s Singles top seed, she was beaten on the evening of Thursday 4th May by colleague Miyuu Kihara, the no.16 seed and a player in form; she suffered a quarter-final defeat by the minimal two point margin in the deciding game (11-9, 5-11, 6-11, 12-10, 11-9).

One round earlier Miyuu Kihara, who is only 12 years old, had accounted for Germany’s Chantal Mantz, the no.5 seed (11-6, 11-9, 11-5).

At the semi-final stage Miyuu Kihara confronts Korea’s Ji Eunchae, the no.8 seed; whilst in the opposite half of the draw, Romania’s Adina Diaconu, the no.2 seed, faces Puerto Rico’s Adriana Diaz, the no.3 seed.

Likewise, Ji Eunchae, who had beaten Poland’s Natalia Bajor, the no.11 seed, one round earlier (11-7, 11-6, 5-11, 11-8), there was a tense quarter-final duel. She had to recover from a two games to nil deficit to beat Thai qualifier Jinnipa Sawettabut (9-11, 6-11, 12-10, 14-12, 11-4), the third round winner in opposition to Germany’s Nina Mittelham, the no.4 seed (12-10, 6-11, 11-6, 15-13).

Close contests, it was no different for Adriana Diaz, who like Ji Eunchae had to perform a recovery of note. In the third round, she lost the first two games against Romania’s Andreea Dragoman, the no.15 seed, before winning the next three (9-11, 6-11, 11-5, 11-7, 13-11).

A quarter-final place booked; life was less exacting for the Puerto Rican who had seemingly gained confidence from her win over Andreea Dragoman.

She beat Thailand’s Tamolwan Khetkhuan the no.6 seed, the player who earlier in the day in the Women’s Singles event had recorded a quite sensational win over Andreea Dragoman’s colleague, Elizabeta Samara, the 2015 European champion. Impressively Adriana Diaz beat Tamolwan Khetkuan in three straight games (11-9, 11-7, 11-5).

Narrow margins; for Adina Diaconu life was less stressful; in the third round she overcame Hungary’s Bernadett Balint, the no.12 seed (11-5, 14-12, 5-11, 11-9), prior to reserving her place in the penultimate round courtesy of success in opposition to Russia’s Ekaterina Guseva, the no.14 seed (6-11, 13-11, 12-10, 11-3).

The semi-finals and final of the Under 21 Women’s Singles event will be played on Friday 5th May.

Challenge Series 2017 Zagreb (Croatia) Open Saki Shibata Adriana Diaz Adina Diaconu Ji Eunchae
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