by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
The tournament is preceded by two days of qualification commencing on Tuesday 16th January; an event in which of the four players who struck gold in Riva del Garda, only Wang Manyu does not have to compete in the qualification event. She is the no.6 seed and having won last year in Austria, is seeking her second such career title.
Notably, the player against whom Wang Manyu experienced defeat in the Girls’ Singles final at the 2017 World Junior Championships, Sun Yingsha, must qualify. The new World Ranking system issued for December 2017, where basically the best eight finishes in Women’s Singles events at international tournaments in the past 12 months is taken into consideration, determines the order of merit.
Listed at no.52, Sun Yingsha does not gain a place amongst the top 16 names who receive a direct entry to the main draw; that fact unveils a rather intriguing possibility.
Like Wang Manyu, she has one ITTF World Tour Women’s Singles title to her credit; just over six months ago she won in Tokyo. However, on that occasion she was required to start her quest in the preliminary stages.
Can the 17 year old repeat the feat in Budapest? If so, she will be the first player in the history of the ITTF World Tour to win a Women’s Singles title when on both occasions having been required to compete in the qualification tournament.
Just to add a little spice to the possibility; in the Japanese capital city she beat colleague, Chen Meng in the final. In the Hungarian capital city Chen Meng is the top seed.