03 Nov 2017

An all Japanese penultimate round line-up, it was the favourite option; the Asian country fielded the top four seeds at the quarter-final stage of the Women’s Singles event at the 2017 ITTF Challenge Belgium Open in De Haan on the evening of Friday 3rd November.

It did not happen; Russia’s Polina Mikhailova spoiled the party,

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

The 31 year old, the no.6 seed, accounted for Honoka Hashimoto, the no.2 seed, in an intensely contested full distance seven games contest (9-11, 11-7, 12-14, 7-11, 11-9, 13-11, 11-7).

Success and notably it was success against a fellow defender, just under one month ago at the ITTF Challenge Series tournament in Poland, in the second round of the Women’s Singles event Polina Mikhailova had been beaten by Sweden’s Linda Bergström (8-11, 10-12, 11-6, 11-3, 11-6 11-9), likewise a player whose style is based on the backspin art.

“It was a very difficult match for me. In the last tournament I lost against a defensive player, so I didn’t have a lot of confidence when I started the match. I had to fight for every point and tried every time to attack. I was a bit lucky in the end but that’s part of the game. I am so proud that I could beat a player of this level. Of course, every win is important but I needed this to improve my world ranking. We will see for tomorrow, it’s not important against who I play.” Polina Mikhailova

A quarter-final victory for one Russian and there was almost the same outcome for another; one which would have resulted in an all-Russian semi-final.

Colleague Maria Dolgikh, the no.8 seed, came precariously close to beating Yui Hamamoto, the no.3 seed; the 19 year old from Japan eventually prevailed in seven games (11-7, 10-12, 11-6, 13-15, 13-11, 8-11, 11-7).

Testing times for Yui Hamamoto, in the opposite half of the draw it was very similar for Hitomi Sato, the top seed, she needed six games to eventual overcome Korea’s Lee Zion, the no.7 seed (13-11, 12-10, 5-11, 11-2, 110-12, 11-6).

Close calls, however for Saki Shibata there was more breathing space; the no.4 seed, she accounted for Korean qualifier, Sun Jiayi in four straight games (11-7, 11-4, 11-8, 11-5).

The semi-finals of the Women’s Singles event are scheduled to start on at 10.00am (local time) on Saturday 4th November.


Challenge Series 2017 Belgium Open Polina Mikhailova

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Day 3 - 2017 Belgium Open