by Ian Marshall, Editor
Focusing her attacking strokes time and time again towards the backhand of Kasumi Ishikawa, Wen Jia secured the opening game. She went ahead 4-2, the gap was reduced to one point at 7-6 but Kasumi Ishikawa never gained parity; at 10-7, Wen Jia held three game points. She converted at the second attempt.
Raising the tempo of the play, fast from the backhand, excelling in the rapid-fire counter topspin close to the table exchanges; in the second game Kasumi Ishikawa established an 8-5 lead. Wen Jia won the next three points. Would Kasumi Ishikawa elect for “Time Out”? She decided to the contrary, it proved a wise decision, she clinched the next three points; it was parity.
Motivated by the success, again maintaining high tempo to her play, her footwork and balance exemplary; Kasumi Ishikawa dominated the third game. She established a 7-1 lead and never looked back. The speed of her play was the crucial factor, she gave Wen Jia minimal time to react.
Immediately, Wen Jia responded; imparting a few more degrees of rotation on her top spin strokes, she captured the fourth game, succeeding on her third game point after having established a 10-5 lead.
Matters level, fast counter attacking play from Kasumi Ishikawa secured the fifth game; We Jia being forced to absorb the speed of the returns from her adversary. At 5-all it was parity, at 10-6 it was four game points; then a moment of charity. Trying serve long, Wen Jia served too long, off the end of the table. The advantage was with Japan.
A response was needed from Wen Jia, in the sixth game she went ahead 3-1 but Kasumi Ishikawa secured the next three points; Wen Jia called “Time Out”. Wen Jia levelled at 4-all but the next two points went to Kasumi Ishikawa. At 8-all it was parity, at 10-8, two match points for Kasumi Ishikawa, both were saved; then another chance at 11-10, Wen Jia believing that Kasumi Ishikawa’s service was a let.
Nevertheless, the point stood, Kasumi Ishikawa called “Time Out”, Wen Jia levelled again but when Kasumi Ishikawa held a fourth match point she succeeded.
“I played against Wen Jia last probably ten years ago, so I did not know her playing style so well. I had to tell myself to calm down and play my best. Last year I managed to make my way to the final at Czech Open, so I had experience of playing in the final here. I’m very happy that I had the experience this time to win the final.” Kasumi Ishikawa
In her 14th ITTF World Tour Women’s Singles final, it was the ninth success for Kasumi Ishikawa, for Wen Jia the record now reads four finals, twice the winner, twice the runner up.