Tournaments

04 Jul 2017

The relatively unknown Saki Shibata keeps the Japanese flag flying, as the big names fall in the opening round at the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Platinum Australia Open in Gold Coast.

by Wade Townsend

Saki Shibata has knocked out no.2 seed, Singapore’s Feng Tianwei in the opening round of the Women’s Singles event (6-11, 6-11, 11-8, 12-10, 11-9, 11-6). Feng seemed to have the match under control in the first two games, but Shibata surprised everyone, including herself, by winning the match.

“I can’t believe that I won! For me all the players are strong so there is no stress when I play.”  Saki Shibata

While not the name that everyone associates with Japanese team, Shibata has a clear goal in mind.

“I want to be strong enough so the Chinese team will study me like they do Miu Hirano and Kasumi Ishikawa.” Saki Shibata

Meanwhile Japanese superstar Miu Hirano couldn’t quite find her rhythm against China’s Gu Yuting (11-13, 11-7, 9-11, 11-7, 11-5, 11-7). It will be back to the drawing board for the 17 year old as the Chinese team has obviously found a way to remove the thorn in their side that was Miu Hirano.

Japan’s biggest names continued to collapse as China’ Zhang Qiang  defeated Japan’s no.7 seed Mima Ito (8-11, 12-10, 11-5, 11-7, 11-7) booking a place in the second against the odds.

Ito looked to have control of the match early on, and was close to a two game lead. But any chance of victory soon slipped through Ito’s fingers as that game went against her 12-10. Zhang took a stronghold of the match and wasn’t letting go.

“It’s my first time playing her but my coach and I had a tactic going in to the match. Ito is very  fast on her first few attacks so I had to be more stable and more active.” Zhang Qiang

Zhang isn’t just enjoying her good form on the table, she also has been taking some time to enjoy the warm winter weather.

“It’s also my first time in Australia and the weather and water here are so beautiful!” Zhang Qiang

 

Checkout the full results from the first round of the Women’s Singles here.

 Day One: Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Platinum Australian Open
Photos: APAC Sport Media

World Tour 2017 Seamaster Australian Open Mima Ito Miu Hirano Feng Tianwei Saki Shibata
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Day 4 - Seamaster 2017 World Tour Australian Open

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