by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
Mima Ito and Hina Hayata gave Japan the ideal start by beating Egypt’s Farah Abdel-Aziz and Yousra Helmy (11-8, 11-4, 11-6). Kasumi Ishikawa overcame Dina Meshref to double the advantage (11-7, 11-5, 9-11, 11-9), before Hina Hayata defeated a spirited Yousra Helmy (11-5, 11-6, 11-7) to end matters.
“Playing in this kind of atmosphere is inspiring for players and I am happy playing in this competition with the huge support from the fans. The first game against Japan was a bit tough but as it progressed we got into the match. It was a good experience for us to play against Japan ahead of the second group match against United States tomorrow. We are in London not only to represent Egypt but the whole of Africa is looking up to us and I hope we can make it to the next round of the competition. In terms of the gap between Africa and Asia, I think it is still wide a bit but for Europe, we have started closing up the gap.” Yousra Helmy
Similarly, China made the best possible start against Brazil. Chen Xingtong and Zhu Yuling beat Caroline Kumahara and Bruna Takahashi (11-4, 11-7, 11-9). Wang Manyu extended the advantage by accounting for Gui Lin (11-7, 11-4, 11-5), prior to Chen Xingtong eventually overcoming a very determined Bruna Takahashi (11-6, 11-8, 8-11, 11-8).
Playing close to the table and positively from the backhand, Bruna Takahashi posed questions.
“I know I lost but for me it was the perfect match; I feel I played really well. It is just in the small details that she was better than me. Except for the first game the remaining games were close, I had chances. She was so good in the rallies but I felt I was able to match her; that’s the area of my play where I know I need to be just that little bit better.” Bruna Takahashi
Brazil now meets DPR Korea to determine second place in the group and thus progress to the quarter-finals; similarly Egypt confronts the United States. The fixtures are scheduled for 10.00am (local time) on Friday 23rd February.