03 Oct 2017

Three games to nil in arrears, playing in only her second ever ITTF World Tour tournament, from the very depths of despair on home soil in Warsaw, Li Qian recovered to beat Austria’s Liu Jia to win the Women’s Singles title at the 2006 Polish Open.

Now, over a decade later she leads the host nation’s challenge for honours in the Women’s Singles event at the 2017 ITTF Challenge Polish Open; she is the no.8 seed. Play commences in Czestochowa with the qualification tournament on Wednesday 4th October.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

The success in 2006 was a watershed for Li Qian, later she was to win in Austria in 2008 and in 2010 in Slovenia, her very technically correct defensive skills proving the key to success.

Notably she is one of eight players on the Czestochowa entry list who have won ITTF World Tour Women’s Singles titles; two being defensive players and like Li Qian having a wealth of experience, the 30 years of age landmark having been crossed.

Viktoria Pavlovich of Belarus who won in 2008 in her country when playing in Minsk, is the no.11 seed, Russia’s Polina Mikhailova who also prevailed in Belarus, succeeding in 2012, is next in the pecking order.

Meanwhile, the left handed attacking skills of Hungary’s Szandra Pergel secured Women’s Singles titles in 2012 in both Croatia and Belgium, whilst Luxembourg’s evergreen Ni Xia Lian reserved the top step of the podium in 1998 at the United States Open in Houston. In Czestochowa, Ni Xia Lian is the no.10 seed, Szandra Pergel is the no.17 seed.

European players in contention but it is to Japan that we look for the major challenge; only 16 years old, Mima Ito, the winner on the ITTF World Tour in 2015 in both Germany and Belarus as well as the following year in Austria, heads the list.

She is one of four players in the top eight names from the Land of the Rising Sun; Miyu Kato is the no.3 seed, Maki Shiomi, the no.5 seed and Saki Shibata, the no.7 seed. Also, the name of Miyu Maeda appears further down the order of merit at no.14; in 2014 she won in Chile.

Japan very much in evidence but also there is a significant challenge from Turkey in the guise of Hu Melek as well as from Hong Kong with Doo Hoi Kem and Lee Ho Ching on duty. Hu Melek is the no.2 seed, Doo Hoi Kem two places lower with Lee Ho Ching being the no.6 seed.

Major title contenders but with home crowd support, could there be two in particular from Poland; Natalia Partyka fresh from a successful defence of her Women’s Singles Class 10 crown last week at the 2017 European Para Championships is Lasko, is the no.13 seed, compatriot Katarzyna Grzybowska-Franc is the no.16 seed.

Challenge Series 2017 Polish Open Li Qian

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