by Ian Marshall, Editor
One year ago, she won the Under 21 Women’s Singles title, a major step forward in her career; now advancing to the last eight in the Women’s Singles event is another watershed moment in the 17 year old’s career. It is the first time she has reached such a round in an ITTF World Tour Women’s Singles event.
Now 36 years old, Matilda Ekholm is one of the more experienced players on the international scene, a player with a style somewhat different to most; she may not be the fastest player on planet earth but in the short game and subtle variations of top spin play a step back from the table she excels.
It takes a certain maturity to compete against such a style, in Olomouc, Adriana Diaz possessed a wise head on young shoulders. It was her first meeting against the left handed Matilda Ekholm on the international stage.
Success for Adriana Diaz means that in the top half of the draw it is Puerto Rico versus Japan.
In the remaining contests, Saki Shibata, the no.7 seed, gave a most impressive performance; she accounted for Romania’s Bernadette Szocs, the no.12 seed in four straight games (11-7, 11-5, 11-8, 11-9). Meanwhile, when facing colleagues, Kasumi Ishikawa, the top seed, overcame the defensive skills of Honoka Hashimoto, the no.9 seed (11-7, 11-7, 7-11, 11-6, 9-11, 11-4); Miu Hirano, the no.3 seed, ended the progress of qualifier, 16 year old Miyu Hirano (11-5, 11-9, 12-10, 11-5).
Wins in both the first and second rounds against left handers, now for Adriana Diaz, another awaits; in the quarter-final round she meets Kasumi Ishikawa, Saki Shibata opposes Miu Hirano.
The matches in the lower half of the draw will be completed later in the day.