by Simon Daish
Opponents on five previous occasions at Under 21 level Miyu Kato and Sakura Mori know each other very well but this was their first head-to-head battle in a senior contest and, just as anticipated, the two Japanese stars played out an exciting finale to the Women’s Singles event in Slovenia.
Come the conclusion of game three it looked as though Sakura Mori would be crowned champion in Otocec; prevailing by 12-10 score-lines in the opening two ends the third seed extended her lead with another strong outing in the following game to move into a commanding position in the tie.
However, a defiant Miyu Kato refused to give up the fight and went on to achieve a magnificent comeback, winning the next four games in a row to snatch victory right from the jaws of defeat (10-12, 10-12, 5-11, 13-11, 11-6, 11-6, 13-11).
An amazing recovery from Miyu Kato, her first trophy of the year and her first Women’s Singles success at an ITTF Challenge Series tournament.
Sakura Mori remains without a Women’s Singles gold medal on the ITTF Challenge Series but she has prevailed on the ITTF World Tour, winning silverware at the 2017 edition of the India Open in New Delhi.