by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Two ITTF World Tour Women’s Doubles titles to their credit; winners in 2016 in Olomouc and most pertinently last year in New Delhi when beating Doo Hoi Kem and Lee Ho Ching in the final; the duo represents one of the best opportunities for Europe and for the host nation to gain a podium finish in Budapest.
However much could depend on the draw scheduled to take place on Monday 15th January. Two notable Chinese pairs could potentially appear in the same half of the draw. Chen Xingtong and Sun Yingsha, winners last year in both Tokyo and Linz occupy the no.3 seeded position in the competition; Chen Ke and Wang Manyu, the winners in 2014 in Incheon, reserve the no.7 seeded spot.
Either of those pairs have the ability to secure the top prize; in fact I would suggest that Chen Xingtong and Sun Yingsha start at favourites for gold.
Similarly, in the Women’s Singles event, European eyes very much focus on Georgina Pota and Matilda Ekholm. Alongside, Li Jie of the Netherlands, Austria’s Sofia Polcanova, Portugal’s Fu Yu and Szandra Pergel, like Georgina Pota from Hungary, they are the seeded players from the home continent.
The no.4 seed, Li Jie has yet to reach an ITTF World Tour Women’s Singles final; it is the same for Sofia Polcanova, the no.8 seed, as it is Fu Yu, the no.15 seed. However, Georgina Pota, the no.7 seed, Matilda Ekholm, the no.10 seed and Szandra Pergel, the no.16 seed, all have such titles to their name.
Georgina Pota won in De Haan in 2014 and again in 2016; in 2012 Matilda Ekholm succeeded in Rabat as in the same year did Szandra Pergel in both Zagreb and Antwerp.
However, could the best chance of a European podium finish in the hands of the one player from the continent who has succeeded in Hungary but this year must compete in the qualification event.
In 2014 Austria’s Liu Jia emerged successful, in the final she ended the hopes of the host nation; she beat a certain Georgina Pota.