by Simon Daish
Leading the field in the Women’s Singles category is Kasumi Ishikawa, who is placed at number seven in the ITTF World Rankings table.
The top seed is looking for her first Women’s Singles title on the ITTF World Tour since the 2016 Swedish Open, and will be hoping to enjoy a far stronger outing in Panagyurishte than she endured on her most recent appearance on the Tour at the 2017 Australia Open where she suffered an early exit in the Round of 32.
Mima Ito is another Japanese player who is aiming to win her first Women’s Singles gold medal of the year in Panagyurishte, and occupying second position in the seeding list the teenage star will be the player to beat in the lower half of the draw.
Two Japanese competitors who have fared well so far this year are Hitomi Sato and Honoka Hashimoto, winning 4 Women’s Singles titles between them at Challenge Series events in 2017. Hitomi Sato won the Women’s Singles Challenge Series tournament in Croatia in 2016 and achieved the same feat earlier this year in Belarus, Thailand and Slovenia while Honoka Hashimoto prevailed at the 2017 Zagreb Open.
Can either Hitomi Sato or Honoka Hashimoto go a step further in Panagyurishte and claim their first Women’s Singles trophy on the 2017 ITTF World Tour?
Alongside the Japanese contingent, there are three European contestants in the top 16 seeding positions heading to the tournament.
Hungarian competitor Georgina Pota is the highest ranked player from Europe set to feature in the Women’s Singles category in Panagyurishte and has been placed at number seven on the list, while Sweden’s Matilda Ekholm sits two spots lower in ninth.
The host nation will also be represented in the main draw with Maria Yovkova being named as a seed for the competition.
Manika Batra and Mouma Das made history at the Liebherr 2017 World Championships, becoming the first fully-Indian partnership to reach the Women’s Doubles quarter-finals on the big stage.
The Indian duo will team up once again at the 2017 Bulgaria Open and will be confident of their chances in Panagyurishte, having been named as the third seeds for the event.
Barbora Balazova of the Slovak Republic and the Czech Republic’s Hana Matelova have proven to be a more than capable doubles pairing and will enter the Women’s Doubles draw as sixth seeds, also keep an eye on the Belarusian partnership of Daria Triogolos and Nadezhda Bogdanova who have also been included in the seeding list.
Note: prior to 2017, Challenge Series tournaments were part of the ITTF World Tour.