by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
Overall, Liu Jia has emerged victorious on four occasions; in addition to the Hungarian success in 2014, previously she had won in Brazil in 2004, Berlin in 2008 and the Czech Republic in 2012.
In fact in the whole Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Hungarian Open, when adding seeded players to the equation, there is only one player who has more such titles to her credit; China’s Chen Meng, the top seed, has won on eight such occasions.
Otherwise the best is three and that record belongs to a player who must also compete in the qualification event. Poland’s Li Qian is the player in question. The leading name in the preliminary stage, she won on home soil in Warsaw in 2006 prior to succeeding in Austria in 2008 and two years later in Slovenia. In Budapest, Li Qian is in the same group as Russia’s Ekaterina Guseva and Laura Pfeffer of France; the opponents for Liu Jia are Belgium’s Margo Degraef and Canada’s Alicia Cote.
Tough tasks for players yet to gain places on the podium when play concludes; most certainly it is the same Ukraine’s Ieveniia Vasylieva and Italy’s Jamila Laurenti. They appear in the same group as China’s redoubtable Sun Yingsha, the winner last year in Japan, prior to the following week being the silver medallist in home turf.
Potentially, Li Qian, Liu Jia and Sun Yingsha can all advance to the main draw; they confront opponents who have yet to win an ITTF World Tour Women’s Singles title. It is the same for Russia’s Polina Mikhailova, Singapore’s Yu Mengyu and Germany’s Sabine Winter as it is for Portugal’s Li Fen. All have won ITTF World Tour Women´s Singles titles and start proceedings as the highest rated player in their respective groups.
However, for Monaco’s Yang Xiaoxin, Spain Sara Ramirez and Viktoria Pavlovich of Belarus, the situation is somewhat different. Listed at no.247 on the current Women’s World Rankings, Yang Xiaoxin is the lowest rated player in her group; the leading name is Chinese Taipei’s Cheng Hsien-Tu at no.44 followed by Russia’s Maria Malanina at no.232.
Nevertheless, the possibility for progress remains; for Sara Ramirez and Viktoria Pavlovich, at least one will not make the main draw. They appear in the same group, moreover, the third member of the group has also enjoyed a place on the podium; also from Belarus, competing in Minsk, Alexandra Pavlovich was the runner up in both 2012 and 2013.
One former winner is destined to fall in the preliminary stage and it could be more; a total of 43 groups in the Women’s Singles qualification tournament. Players finishing in first places in Group No.22 to Group No.43 compete in the first preliminary round; the winners advance to the second preliminary round, the stage at which the players finishing in first places in Group No.1 to Group No.21 enter proceedings.
Winners in that round, 16 in total join the 16 seeds in the main draw.