05 May 2017

Disappointed the previous day when the top seed, experiencing defeat at the quarter-final stage of the Under 21 Women’s Singles event at the 2017 ITTF Challenge Zagreb Open, the following day, Friday 5th May, Japan’s Saki Shibata more than made amends.

The 19 year old caused the one and only upset at the quarter-final stage of the Women’s Singles event; in so doing she underlined a quality which the world’s leading players possess, lay the past to rest and look to the future.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

Occupying the no.7 seeded position in the tournament, she accounted for Sweden’s Li Fen, the no.4 seed and 2013 European champion in five games (5-11, 11-6, 11-5, 11-6, 11-5).

Success for Saki Shibata and there was also for her colleague, Honoka Hashimoto, the no.2 seed; the overall effect being that Japan is guaranteed a place in the final. Both Saki Shibata and Honoka Hashimoto are in the same half of the draw and thus meet in the penultimate round.

Extolling her ever increasingly reliable defensive skills, Honoka Hashimoto, the no.2 seed, justified her high status by overcoming Chinese Taipei’s Liu Hsing-Yin in four straight games (11-9, 11-9, 11-3, 11-3).

Meanwhile in the opposite half of the draw, Austria’s Sofia Polcanova kept the flag flying for Europe. The no.6 seed, she ended the adventures of Korean qualifier, Park Jopohyun; however, the result was almost not as status advised. Sofia Polcanova had to withstand a spirited recovery from the 23 year old before eventually emerging successful in seven games (11-4, 11-4, 4-11, 11-5, 14-16, 8-11, 11-5).

Hard earned success; Sofia Polcanova now meets Thailand’s Suthasini Sawettabut. The no.8 seed, she accounted for colleague Tamolwan Khetkhuan, the no.30 seed, to reserve her place in the last four (5-11, 11-6, 11-5, 11-6, 11-5).

The semi-finals and final will be played on Saturday 5th May.


Challenge Series 2017 Zagreb (Croatia) Open Saki Shibata Honoka Hashimoto Sofia Polcanova Suthasin Sawettabut

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