20 May 2018

All defenders are different or so they say; that fact most certainly had a ring of truth at the semi-final stage of the Women’s Singles event at the 2018 ITTF Thailand Open in Bangkok on the morning of Sunday 20th May.

China’s Zuo Yue experienced defeat at the hands of Japan’s Honoka Hashimoto, the no.3 seed; she was beaten in four games (11-6, 11-6, 5-11, 11-6, 11-4).

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager

The outcome was as status advised, Zuo Yue was competing in her first open international tournament, for Honoka Hashimoto it was nothing new.

In the very same tournament staged just over one year ago in early April, the no.4 seed, Honoka Hashimoto had caused a semi-final upset by beating Hong Kong’s Doo Hoi Kem, the top seed (11-8, 13-11, 11-8, 13-15, 11-2). Once again Honoka Hashimoto is in the final.

Experience and seeding suggested that Honoka Hashimoto was the favourite but there was a major factor that advised otherwise. At the quarter-final stage, Zuo Yue had ousted Honoka Hashimoto’s colleague and fellow defensive expert Hitomi Sato in six games (15-13, 11-8, 10-12, 11-9, 6-11, 11-3); the evidence was plenty that Zuo Yue was no mean player against the backspin art.

Credit to Honoka Hashimoto, she found the answers.

Success for Honoka Hashimoto followed success for Zuo Yue’s illustrious colleague, Liu Shiwen; a typically consistent performance, she ended the progress of Saki Shibata, the no.4 seed and like Honoka Hashimoto from Japan. Impressively, Liu Shiwen won in four straight games (11-6, 11-7, 11-5, 11-8).

Defeat for Saki Shibata who fell just one step short of reaching her third ITTF Challenge Series Women’s Singles final of the year; notably in March she won in Spain, in April in Croatia.

Meanwhile for Liu Shiwen it is yet another Women’s Singles final; starting in 2009 at the English Open in Sheffield, prior to play commencing in Bangkok she had competed in 26 ITTF World Tour Women’s Singles finals.

The final will be played later in the day.

Challenge Series 2018 Thailand Open liu shiwen Saki Shibata Honoka Hashimoto Zuo Yue

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