by Ian Marshall, Editor
Much depended on the experience of Ni Xia Lian, her deft pen-hold grip skills making her the architect of any doubles partnership but facing the very technically correct Japanese duo was a major test.
The task for the Luxembourg duo was undoubtedly to try to win the points quickly; in topspin rallies Satsuki Odo and Saki Shibata were the favourites.
In the opening game, rallies were few and far between, after saving one game point, at the fourth attempt Satsuki Odo and Saki Shibata prevailed. The second game very much followed the pattern of the first, on the whole rallies brief; at 10-8 after the most entertaining rally of the match, Satsuki Odo and Saki Shibata held two game points. Both game points were saved but when Satsuki Odo and Saki Shabata had a third opportunity they converted.
Two games to nil ahead there was now a higher degree of confidence in the Japanese camp; they established an 8-4 lead, they did not lose another point. The title was secured.
It was for both pairs their second appearance in a 2018 ITTF Challenge Series Women’s Doubles final; earlier this year Sarah de Nutte and Ni Xia Lian had finished in runners up spot in Spain losing to Japan’s Honoka Hashimoto and Hitomi Sato. Likewise in Thailand, Satsuki Odo and Saki Shibata had concluded matters in the silver medal position; in the final they were beaten by the host nation’s Orawan Parang and Suthasini Sawettabut.
Now, in De Haan it was one step higher for Satsuki Odo and Saki Shibata, again the same step for Sarah de Nutte and Ni Xia Lian.