by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
Success contrary to seeding and also contrary to history; at the GAC Group 2015 ITTF World Tour German Open in Bremen, in the preliminary stage of the Under 21 Women’s Singles event, Minnie Soo Wai Yam had beaten Yoon Hyobin.
Undoubtedly since those days, Minnie Soo Wai Yam has made notable progress; it would seem that it is the same for Yoon Hyobin; a player who has experienced less international exposure in the intervening three years.
An upset and according to status and there was one more but hardly could the outcome be termed a surprise; two players well known to each other saw Saki Shibata, the no.5 seed, overcame Japanese colleague, Honoka Hashimoto, the no.4 seed, in four games (11-5, 11-7, 11-6, 11-3).
Equally, the success recorded by Hungary Georgina Pota, the no.3 seed in opposition to Yuka Minagawa, a qualifier and like Saki Shibata from Japan (11-7, 10-12, 11-5, 11-1, 11-3) was as anticipated.
However, one wondered prior to the start of the quarter-final round as to whether Sweden’s Matilda Ekholm, the no.6 seed, might prove too consistent with her top spin play in opposition to Japan’s backspin artiste, Hitomi Sato. In the previous round Matilda Ekholm had ended the progress of Korean defender Kim Youjin in five games (11-7, 9-11, 13-11, 11-9, 12-10); furthermore at the 2016 ITTF World Tour Czech Open, Matilda Ekholm had beaten Hitomi Sato in four straight games.
There was to be no such upset in Guadalajara; Hitomo Sato totally reversed the result of two years earlier; just as she had been beaten in straight games, she on a straight games (11-8, 11-6, 11-6, 11-2).
At the semi-final stage Hitomi Sato meets Georgina Pota, Saki Shibata confronts Yoon Hyobin; the matches are scheduled for later in the evening.