15 Aug 2018

Gold medallist at the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games but in recent times absent from the international scene, China’s Liu Gaoyang announced her return to the global arena in commanding fashion in Panagyurishte on Tuesday 14th August.

She emerged as one of four players to secure first place in her initial phase group in the Women’s Singles qualification event that precedes the Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Asarel Bulgaria Open.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

After accounting for Germany’s Wan Yuan (11-7, 11-7, 11-4, 11-4), she beat Poland’s Karazyna Grzybowska-Franc, the highest rated player in the group, in an even more emphatic manner; she conceded just 10 points (11-3, 11-1, 11-3, 11-3). Presently, Karazyna Grzybowska-Franc is named at no.78 on the Women’s World Rankings.

First place in the group against expectations, it was the same for Hungary’s Orsolya Feher and Leonie Hartbricht, as it was for Korea Republic’s Park Joohyun.

Like Liu Gaoyuan, all three accounted for the highest rated player in the group, although for Leonie Hartbricht it was a technical knock-out. After beating Belgium’s Lisa Lung (7-11, 18-16, 11-13, 11-7, 11-8, 11-6), she received a walk-over when due to face Italy’s Giorgia Piccolin, listed at no.77 on the current rankings.

Meanwhile, for Orsolya Feher and Park Joohyun, life was more testing. Orsolya Feher beat colleague Bernadett Balint by the very narrowest of margins (5-11, 11-9, 7-11, 11-7, 7-11, 11-6, 11-7), prior to overcoming the leading group name, Brazil’s Bruna Takahashi, world ranked no.71 (11-6, 11-8, 11-13, 11-7, 11-9), to reserve pole position.

Likewise, Park Joohyun, after defeating Belgium’s Nathalie Marchetti (7-11, 11-7, 11-8, 3-11, 11-4, 11-3) upset the pecking order by accounting for Charlotte Carey of Wales (11-8, 13-11, 11-8, 11-5). On the current Women’s World Rankings, Charlotte Carey is listed at no.102.

Success but, as yet a place in the main draw is not guaranteed, for all four players a further test awaits. A total of 24 groups in the initial stage, only the players finishing in first positions in group no.1 to group no.8 receive direct entries to join the 16 seeds in the opening round; the players finishing in first places in the remaining 16 groups must compete in a preliminary round.

Notably, for the leading names which feature in the top eight groups, it was one match played; one match won.

There were successful starts for Japan’s Miyu Nagasaki and Maki Shiomi, also for Li Jie and Britt Eerland of the Netherlands. Similarly, Russia’s Polina Mikhailova and the Czech Republic’s Hana Matelova prevailed in their opening contests, situations that also applied to Germany’s Nina Mittelham and Poland’s Natalia Partyka.

Play in the qualification tournament concludes on Wednesday 15th August.

World Tour 2018 Seamaster Bulgaria Open Liu Gaoyuan

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Day 4 - 2018 Seamaster ITTF World Tour Asarel Bulgaria Open

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