02 Apr 2018

On the opening day of the two-day qualification tournament ahead of the 2018 ITTF Challenge Slovenia Open in Otocec it was a Croatian competitor who took centre stage in the Women's Singles qualifying group stage with Ivana Malobabic very much outperforming expectations on Monday 2nd April.

by Simon Daish

The lowest ranked player in Group 7 but Ivana Malobabic made a strong start to her qualification campaign in Otocec, earning a comfortable clean sweep victory over Sarah Meyer of Luxembourg (11-4, 11-7, 11-8, 11-4).

However, the second group fixture produced an even greater story as Malobabic stunned group favourite Li Yu-Jhun, beating the Chinese Taipei contestant in a seven game thriller (11-4, 2-11, 11-6, 5-11, 11-9, 10-12, 11-7).

Success for Ivana Malobabic and the same can be said for fellow compatriot Ida Jazbec; she saw off India’s Amrutha Pushpak with little difficulty (11-4, 11-7, 11-8, 11-8) and will face Amelie Solja in the Group 6 finale.

Melanie Diaz experienced opening day drama, losing out in her first group stage encounter in disappointing fashion.

The Puerto Rican player fell to Russia’s Anastasiia Komova in straight games (11-7, 11-6, 11-7, 11-9) and now requires a convincing victory against Yumeno Soma of Japan if she is to keep her hopes of securing top spot in Group 3 alive.

There was a close scare for one of the major contenders in the race to reach the Women’s Singles main draw as Serbia’s Andrea Todorovic narrowly avoided an opening day upset, edging to a seven games win over Hungarian opponent Orsolya Feher (11-3, 5-11, 11-9, 7-11, 11-7, 6-11, 11-7) to keep her campaign on track.

Semi-finalist at the recent 2018 ITTF Challenge Spanish Open, Korea’s Yoon Hyobin has successfully negotiated her qualifying group in Otocec with positive displays against Lam Yee Lok (11-9, 11-8, 11-9, 11-8) and Izabela Lupulesku (11-8, 11-6, 11-7, 11-5) while fellow Korean representatives Sim Hyunju and Kim Youjin also came through their respective groups undefeated.

Challenge Series 2018 Slovenia Open Melanie Diaz Ivana Malobabic Andrea Todorovic Ida Jazbec

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