by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
The no.5 seed, having accounted for colleague Hitomi Sato, the top seed and player she had beaten some two weeks ago in the final in Spain, in four straight games (12-10, 11-3, 11-6, 11-7), she accounted for Romania’s Elizabeta Samara, the no.3 seed (11-9, 11-5, 10-12, 6-11, 11-4, 11-8) to secure the title.
In the opposite half of the draw, in the penultimate round, Elizabeta Samara had ended the progress of Luxembourg’s Ni Xia Lian, the no.13 seed (7-11, 15-13, 11-7, 11-9, 13-11).
Overall at open international tournaments staged this year, the success in Zagreb in the Women’s Singles event was no less than her sixth title of the year; more than one per month!
Prior to the success in Zagreb and the win against Hitomi Sato in Spain, competing in Under 21 Women’s Singles events, she won at the Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour German Open before adding to the success at ITTF Challenge Series tournaments in Spain and Slovenia.
Overall Saki Shibata has now appeared in five Women’s Singles finals on the ITTF World Tour or ITTF Challenge Series; she has won four times. Additional to this year’s success she won in 2016 in Belarus and in 2017 in Belgium; the only defeat was last year in Poland when beaten in the final by colleague, Mima Ito.
Meanwhile, for Elizabeta Samara it was her eighth such appearance, the fifth time runners up spot has been her lot.
She won in 2013 in Brazil, as well as in 2014 in the Czech Republic and in 2015 in Qatar; she was the runner up in 2010 in Hungary, two years later in Poland, in 2013 in the United States and in 2014 in the Philippines.
In Zagreb it was the same outcome.