by Ian Marshall, Editor
One year ago, she was beaten in the final in Bulgaria by Kasumi Ishikawa; the following week in Olomouc she reversed the decision to secure the top prize.
Now, last week in Bulgaria, she experienced a first round defeat at the hands of China’s Wang Yidi, the player who excelled all expectations to reach the Women’s Singles final, eventually losing to colleague Ding Ning.
Once again it is time to lay the past to history for the player who the no.2 seed behind Kasumi Ishikawa, in a Women’s Singles event where Japan reserves six of the top eight seeded places. Miu Hirano is the next in line followed by Hitomi Sato and Hina Hayata; Saki Shibata is the no.7 seed. The interlopers are Austria’s Sofia Polcanova, the no.6 seed and Romania’s Elizabeta Samara, the no.8 seed, a player with pleasant memories of Olomouc.
Impressively, Elizabeta Samara secured the Women’s Singles title in 2014 beating Japan’s Ai Fukuhara in the final. Alongside Mima Ito, she is one of four previous winners on duty this year. In 2013 Victoria Pavlovich of Belarus emerged successful accounting for Li Jiao of the Netherlands in the title decider; two years later Monaco’s Yang Xiaoxin secured the title at the final expense of Japan’s Maki Shiomi.
Notably, Maki Shiomi is also on duty this year but like Viktoria Pavlovich and Yang Xiaoxin, she must first qualify.
Contenders for honours but all are looking over their shoulders; as last week in Bulgaria, there is a most impressive Chinese contingent named on the entry list. Players who start their quest in the qualification tournament; additional to Wang Yidi, Liu Gaoyang, who reached the semi-final stage in Bulgaria, notably beating Miu Hirano en route, is on duty as are Chen Ke and Zhang Rui.
Furthermore, Chen Ke, Zhang Rui and Wang Yidi appear prominently in the Under 21 Women’s Singles event. Chen Ke is the top seed, ahead of Japan’s Miyu Nagasaki. Zhang Rui and Wang Yidi are the respective third and fourth seeds; for Puerto Rico’s Adriana Diaz, who won the title last year beating Germany’s Nina Mittelham in the final, a tough task awaits. She is the no.8 seed.
Meanwhile, also in action for China in the Women’s Singles event are Wen Jia and Wu Yang; both former Women’s Singles winners on the ITTF World Tour.
All are capable of reaching the final day.