08 Oct 2017

A brave effort, giving her best as always and delighting those present in Czestochowa with her elegant skills, alas from the perspective of the host nation it was disappointment, it was defeat for the defensive textbook of backspin artistry.

At the semi-final stage of the Women’s Singles event at the 2017 ITTF Challenge Polish Open, Li Qian, the no.8 seed, was beaten by Japan’s Saki Shibata, the no.7 seed (11-8, 11-9, 12-10, 10-12, 11-8).

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

The result means that an all Japanese Women’s Singles final will be enacted later in the day; earlier in the first session of play on the concluding day of action, Mima Ito, the top seed, had prevailed in six games against Miyu Kato, the no.3 seed (11-8, 10-12, 11-9, 14-12).

Success for Japan, success for the new generation of female players that have asserted themselves on the international scene this century; even in the halcyon days of the 1950s and 1960s when female players from the Land of the Rising Sun were winning titles galore at World Championships and China was a nation waiting in the wings, never has there been such a depth of talent in a country proud of its sporting traditions.

Currently on the Women’s World Rankings, Mima Ito is listed at no.7, Miyu Kato at no.21 and Saki Shibata at no.38; impressive now consider those names in terms of Japan alone. In the global order Mima Ito is the third on the list behind Kasumi Ishikawa and Miu Hirano, neither present in Czestochowa; Miyu Kato is the seventh highest, Saki Shibata the tenth in line.

Notably, there are six Japanese players in the top 20 of the present day Women’s World Rankings, eleven in the top 50 and no less than 19 names in the top 100. Furthermore, of the Japanese names in the top 100, the oldest are those of Marina Matsuzawa and Misaki Morizono, both are veritable veterans at 25 years of age!

An exciting new generation; that fact underlined in Czestochowa, Saki Shibata is 20 years old, Miyu Kato is 18 years of age, Mima Ito 16 years young.

Challenge Series 2017 Polish Open Mima Ito Miyu Kato Li Qian Saki Sibata

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