by Simon Daish
Hina Hayata and Mima Ito, both 17, entered the match as the slight favourites to prevail having earned an impressive victory over Chen Meng and Zhu Yuling at the recent 2017 Swedish Open.
The seeding positions also hinted towards a win for the Japanese stars, who held top spot in the list while their opponents occupied second position but ultimately it was the Chinese team who came out on top with a fine performance in the final.
Right from the outset of the final both partnerships wowed spectators with their lightning quick attacking skills and there was actually very little between the teams across all four of the games.
Despite trailing by a three games deficit Hina Hayata and Mima Ito appeared to have a small glimmer of hope after establishing a strong lead in the fourth end, but Chen Meng and Zhu Yuling responded well and eventually came away with a straight games victory over the Japanese stars (11-8, 11-8, 11-8, 11-9).
Victory in Astana marks the first time that Chen Meng and Zhu Yuling have won the title as a pairing while it was a second gold medal in the category for the latter player who also emerged with the trophy at the 2015 edition of the tournament alongside Ding Ning.
“Our performance was normal in this match, we did a lot preparations prior and I think we could have played even better.” Zhu Yuling
Disappointment for Hina Hayata and Mima Ito but the teenage duo can reflect on 2017 with pride, securing top spot in the Women’s Doubles draw on two occasions on this year’s ITTF World Tour and a semi-finals finish at the Liebherr 2017 World Championships.