by Ian Marshall, Editor
At the current Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Asarel Bulgaria Open in Panagyurishte on the opening day of action, the no.2 seed, she was beaten in the second round of the Under 21 Women’s Singles event by Kim Hayeong (9-11, 16-14, 5-11, 11-9, 12-10); one day later on Wednesday 15th August, in her concluding group stage contest in the Women’s Singles qualification tournament, it was déjà vu.
Listed at a highly creditably no.38 on the current Women’s World Rankings, the highest ranked player required to qualify, she experienced a straight games defeat (11-6, 11-3, 14-12, 11-7) at the hands of Kim Hayeong listed at no.268.
Success for Kim Hayeong means she concluded the group unbeaten and thus gained a place in the main draw; players finishing in first places in groups numbered one to eight, progressed the competition proper, for those who finished in top spots in the remaining 16 groups, a preliminary round beckoned.
First place in the main draw contrary to expectations, in the top eight groups, it was the same for China’s Liu Xi and Romania’s Irina Ciobanu. Both remained unbeaten, concluding their initial stage contests by overcoming the leading name. Liu Xi accounted for Li Jie of the Netherlands (13-11, 11-6, 11-5, 11-7); Irina Ciobanu overcame the Czech Republic’s Hana Matelova (11-5, 11-5, 2-11, 14-12, 7-11, 11-6).
Defeats for three prominent names; for five more it was first place and progress to the main draw. Japan’s Maki Shiomi alongside Britt Eerland, like Li Jie from the Netherlands, emerged unscathed as did Russia’s Polina Mikhailova, Germany’s Nina Mittelham and Poland’s Natalia Partyka.
Surprises amongst the top eight names on qualification tournament duty, lower down the order there were also upsets; players completing their initial phase matches unbeaten, by overcoming the highest rated player in the group.
China’s Wen Jia, a player with two ITTF World Tour Women’s Singles titles to her credit, beat Germany’s Sabine Winter (11-9, 11-6, 11-7, 11-6); likewise Italy’s Li Xiang overcame Hungary’s Dora Madarasz (11-8, 11-7, 11-3, 11-5). Meanwhile, not to be upstaged, Slovakia’s Tatiana Kukulkova accounted Daria Trigolos of Belarus (12-10, 11-5, 8-11, 9-11, 12-10, 6-11, 11-8); Russia’s Mariia Tailakova ended the hopes of Serbia’s Andrea Todorovic (11-5, 12-10, 11-7, 3-11, 11-7).
The preliminary round will be staged later in the day.