by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Dora Madarasz, who had been required to compete in the qualification tournament, despite mounting a determined recovery, was beaten by the very narrowest of seven game margins by Canada’s Zhang Mo, the no.13 seed (11-4, 5-11, 9-11, 8-11, 11-4, 11-7, 11-9).
“We met two times before and we always played big matches I was prepared for the match to go for the full distance, so it happened. After the first four games I had to change the rhythm of play completely to get a grip. I could see my change was good decision. I became more and more confident. I started to believe more.” Zhang Mo
Soon after, Georgina Pota, the no.7 seed, experienced defeat at the hands of China’s Sun Yingsha (11-6, 11-5, 13-11, 11-1).
“Gina made very few mistakes today. I had fight hard for every point and place the ball well to be able to win.” Sun Yingsha
“It was a very tough opponent for the first round. She is better than me in backhand to backhand rallies; when I played a good shot she always had a better response.” Georgina Pota
Success for Sun Yingsha, who like Dora Madarasz had been required to qualify, having won on the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour in Japan and then at the end of the year being crowned World Junior champion, the outcome was hardly a major upset.
However, there was one relative surprise of note as the opening round of the Women’s Singles event concluded. Russia’s Polina Mikhailova used her defensive skills to good effect to beat Japan’s Yui Hamamoto, the no.14 seed (8-11, 12-10, 11-9, 11-8, 7-11, 11-6).
“I played her in Belgium so I knew all the changes I needed to make. I chose to defend more and wait and wait and wait for the right moment to attack or change the spin. I am very happy about this victory.” Polina Mikhailova
Otherwise, it was success for the leading names with Hong Kong very much to the fore. Minnie Soo Wai Yam, the no.12 seed, led the way. She ended the hopes of Italian defender Li Xiang (11-9, 11-8, 12-10, 11-7).
“My patience was the most important; whenever I play a defensive player I get anxious. The hardest part is to control my emotions. Today I did that really well.” Minnie Soo Wai Yam
“She served really well and used very good tactics against me today. I have to watch this match again so I can learn from it.” Li Xiang
Imposing from Minnie Soo Wai Yam; Lee Ho Ching, the no.2 seed, followed suit. She beat Egypt’s Dina Meshref (11-13, 11-4, 11-9, 6-11, 11-7, 11-7).
“Dina is a very good player very consistent; for me it was the first match of this competition so I needed to get going. I was not really comfortable with the new multi-ball system. I needed to adjust my game to it, everything was a bit too fast. I am happy to make the next round.” Lee Ho Ching
Noteworthy performances delivered by Lee Ho Ching and Minnie Soo Wai Yam as the day closed; it was the same from Chinese Taipei’s Chen Szu-Yu, Singapore’s Zeng Jian and Portugal’s Fu Yu.
Chen Szu-Yu, the no.5 seed, beat Ukraine’s Ganna Gaponova (11-6, 11-6, 11-3, 11-9). Meanwhile, Zeng Jian, the no.11 seed, withstood a brave recovery by Germany’s Nina Mittelham (11-7, 14-12, 11-8, 10-12, 7-11, 10-12, 11-7), whilst Fu Yu halted the ambitions of India’s Mouma Das (8-11, 11-4, 11-3, 11-5, 9-11, 11-9).
“The most important factor of my success was to be able to control the tempo of the match.” Chen Szu-Yu
“After yesterday I was hoping for a better result today but after all I had a very good competition her in Budapest Ii cannot complain.” Ganna Gaponova
The second round of the Women’s Singles event is scheduled to commence at 4.00pm (local time) on Friday 19th January.