25 Jul 2018

Winner in Lagos in both 2015 and 2016 but in Geelong, for Portugal’s Shao Jieni any such hopes of a repeat success faded on the opening day of action, Tuesday 24th July, in the qualification tournament that precedes the Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Platinum, Australian Open.

Listed at no.161 on the current Women’s World Rankings, she was beaten in her opening contest by the host nation’s Jee Minhyung, named at no.723 (11-3, 1-11, 11-7, 11-9, 5-11, 13-11).

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Defeat for Shao Jieni against the odds; she was not alone as play commenced.

Next in line in the order of causing upsets was India’s Pooja Sahasrabudhe, ranked no.296, she overcame Chinese Taipei’s Liu Hsing-Yin who stands at no.195; the 26 year old from Maharashtra Province in the west of India, emerged successful in seven games (11-9, 9-11, 7-11, 11-9, 11-7, 8-11, 11-8).

Success contrary to expectations for Pooja Sahasrabudhe; for colleague Mouma Das it was the reverse scenario; she was beaten in her opening engagement by Japan’s Shiho Matsudaira (9-11, 11-8, 11-8, 7-11, 11-8, 11-7). Presently on the Women’s World Rankings, Shiho Matsudaira is named at no.448, Mouma Das at no.120 (9-11, 11-8, 11-8, 7-11, 11-8, 11-7).

Results to note and there was one more involving Indian players, Sutirtha Mukherjee upset the ranked order by beating her namesake Ayhika Mukherjee, the player who in the recent Ultimate League had caused chaos with her unique style of play, short pimpled rubber on the forehand and anti-spin on the backhand. No doubt accustomed to the style, Suthirtha Mukherjee, ranked no.603, emerged successful against Ayhika Mukherjee, rated at no.117, in five games (9-11, 11-9, 11-5, 11-9, 11-8).

A somewhat unexpected outcome when Indian players met; it was arguably the same where Japan was involved. Named at no.135 on the present Women’s World Rankings, Marina Matsuzawa beat Miyu Nagasaki listed at no.38; she won in seven games (8-11, 10-12, 11-3, 12-10, 10-12, 11-8, 11-7).

Impressive performances but if one nation impressed it was China.

Liu Weishan, currently a player with no global listing but last year the winner of the Girls’ Singles title on the ITTF World Junior Circuit in Hong Kong, accounted for Singapore’s Zhou Yihan, ranked no.107 (9-11, 11-4, 11-8, 11-4, 11-3). Meanwhile, as anticipated, Che Xiaoxi beat Korea Republic’s Shin Yubin (11-2, 14-12, 11-6, 11-8), whilst Li Jiayi emerged successful in the all Chinese contest beating Fan Siqi (11-13, 12-10, 11-6, 11-7, 11-8).

However, I would suggest that the name to note from the Chinese delegation is that of He Zhuojia; just under two months ago in Hong Kong, she accounted for colleague Liu Shiwen at the quarter-final stage of the Women’s Singles event, prior to losing to Chen Xingtong, also from China. Impressively, in Geelong she opened her account by overcoming Chinese Taipei’s Lin Chia-Hui (11-3, 11-6, 11-4, 11-3).

Play in the qualification tournament concludes on Wednesday 25th July; only first position in each of the 16 groups secures a main draw berth.

World Tour 2018 Seamaster Australia Open Jee Minhyung Pooja Sahasrabude

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