31 Mar 2018

Established on the international scene, ever more experienced Korea’s Cho Seungmin and Japan’s Saki Shibata won the respective Men’s Singles and Women’s Singles events at the 2018 ITTF Challenge Spanish Open in Guadalajara on Saturday 31st March; the first titles to be decided in the three day tournament.

At the final hurdle, Cho Seungmin, the top seed, accounted for Germany’s Tobias Hippler, the no.12 seed, emerging successful in three straight games (11-9, 11-6, 11-4); at the same time in a very similar manner Saki Shibata, the no.2 seed, overcame Korean qualifier, Kim Youjin (11-2, 11-9, 11-6) to secure the top prize.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager

Notably for Saki Shibata it was her second consecutive success; the previous week in Bremen at the Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour German Open she had emerged successful overcoming China’s Huang Yingqi in the final.

Taking into account both ITTF World Tour and ITTF Challenge Series tournaments, she is now just in sight of the most successful players ever in Under 21 Women’s Singles events.

Between 2011 and 2014, Korea’s Yang Haeun competed in 12 ITTF World Tour Under 21 Women’s Singles finals and won nine times; she is next in line to Kasumi Ishikawa, like Saki Shibata from Japan. Between 2009 and 2014 she reached no less than 15 such finals, she won ten times.

Overall, including today, Saki Shibata has appeared in ten such finals, she has won six times; to catch either Yang Haeun or Kasumi Ishikawa will be a momentous task. Saki Shibata has only some eight months left to achieve the feat; this year is her last in the Under 21 age category.

Conversely for Kim Yoijin it was her first appearance in either an ITTF World Tour or ITTF Challenge Series final; it was the same for Tobias Hippler.

Meanwhile, for Cho Seungmin he was on duty for the third time; on the ITTF World Tour in 2016 he won the Under 21 Men’s Singles title in Belarus, last year in Austria he was the runner up. Now once again he is the winner, the owner of the top step of the podium.

Challenge Series 2018 Spanish Open Saki Shibata Cho Seungmin Tobias Hippler Kim Youjin

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