16 Mar 2018

A narrow margin but for Japan’s Honoka Hashimoto and Hitomi Sato, the top seeds, it was a surprise defeat at the semi-final stage of the Women’s Doubles event at the 2018 ITTF Challenge Series Polish Open in Spala on the afternoon of Friday 16th March.

They were beaten in five games by the combination of Barbora Balazova and Hana Matelova, the no.4 seeds (7-11, 11-9, 12-10, 7-11, 11-9).

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager

Notably in recent times Honoka Hashimoto and Hitomi Sato have proved one of the most successful pairs on the international scene; six titles in less than a two year period underlines their quality and, in turn, also underlines the quality of the partnership formed by Barbora Balazova and Hana Matelova

In 2016, on the ITTF World Tour Honoka Hashimoto and Hitomi Sato won in Australia, Austria and Belarus; last year at ITTF Challenge Series tournaments they succeeded in Belgium, Croatia and Thailand.

One round earlier at the quarter-final stage, Honoka Hashimoto and Hitomi Sato had beaten Egypt’s Dina Meshref and Youra Helmy, the no.5 seeds (11-6, 11-9, 11-4), Barbora Balazova and Hana Matelova had accounted for Chinese Taipei’s Huang Yi-Hua and Wang Yi-Ju, the no.8 seeds (11-6, 8-11, 11-9, 11-9).

At the final hurdle, the tried and trusted Korean combination of Jeon Jihee and Yang Haeun, the no.2 seeds, awaits. They booked their final place in a most impressive manner; in the round of the last eight pairs they beat Japan’s Satsuki Odo and Saki Shibata (16-14, 11-5, 11-8), prior to overcoming Spain’s Galia Dvorak and Maria Xiao, like the Japanese duo qualifiers, in the penultimate round (11-3, 11-4, 11-2).

A most impressive performance against the Spaniards who were clearly in good form; in the quarter-final round they had ended the hopes of India’s Manika Batra and Mouma Das in nail-biting five games encounter (11-7, 3-11, 9-11, 11-4, 16-14).

The final is scheduled for 2.30 pm on Saturday 17th March.

Challenge Series 2018 Polish Open Hitomi Sato Honoka Hashimoto Hana Matelova Barbora Balazova

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