04 Nov 2017

Defence prevailed, defence succumbed as both semi-finals in the Women’s Singles event at the 2017 ITTF Challenge Belgium Open in De Haan produced upsets.

Hitomi Sato, the top seed was beaten by colleague Saki Shibata, the no.4 seed (11-7, 11-3, 11-5, 11-8) to be followed by Yui Hamamoto, the no.3 seed who suffered at the hands of Russia’s Polina Mikhailova, the no.6 seed (11-7, 6-11, 11-6, 4-11, 11-8, 12-10).

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

The win for Polina Mikhailova was to some extent déjà vu; at the quarter-final stage she had beaten Honoka Hashimoto, the no.2 seed (9-11, 11-7, 12-14, 7-11, 11-9, 13-11, 11-7) and had thus had prevented an all Japanese penultimate round line-up, consequently, the success in opposition to Yui Hamamoto prevented an all Japanese final.

“I feel great, another good win against a Japanese player. This is the first time that I play the final of a tournament of this level. Against Shibata it will be a very difficult match but I am ready to fight.” Polina Mikhailova.

First time in a final at this level? It is for Polina Mikhailova it is her first appearance of the year in a Challenge Series Women’s Singles final but not in her career; in 2012 she won in Minsk at the Belarus Open when the tournament was a member of the ITTF World Tour. She beat the host nation’s Alexandra Privalova in the final.

Success for European defensive skills, not for those from Asia but of course it must be taken into account that Hitomi Sato was facing a colleague who was well aware of her style of play; I would suggest that the defeat was hardly an upset.

However, the defeat does mean that Hitomi Sato will not repeat her success of earlier in the year in Challenge Series tournaments.

Notably she won in Minsk and also in Bangkok when beating her Women’s Doubles partner, Honoka Hashimoto in the final, additionally she succeeded in Otocec, on that occasion she accounted for Hungary’s Georgina Pota to secure the top prize.

Challenge Series 2017 Belgium Open Saki Shibata Hitomi Sato Polina Mikhailova Yui Hamamoto

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Day 3 - 2017 Belgium Open