by Ian Marshall, Editor
The mind went back to the Seamaster 2017 Asian Championships some 18 months ago in Wuxi, when Miu Hirano had secured the Women’s Singles title, one after another beating Ding Ning, Chen Meng and Zhu Yuling; the question posed was could Mima Ito repeat the feat in the Eriksdalshallen and beat three of China’s elite in succession?
Very quickly we received the answer!
At the quarter-final stage Mima Ito had recovered from a three games to one deficit to beat Liu Shiwen, in the penultimate round from two games to nil in arrears to overcome Ding Ning. She had looked down and out in the early games of those encounters.
Against Zhu Yuling it was the total reverse scenario, playing at a hundred miles an hour, machine gun like attacking play, she left her illustrious adversary totally dumfounded. She afforded Zhu Yuling a meagre total of just 11 points in the first three games; Zhu Yuling calling “Time Out” in the third when trailed 2-5.
Relentless, giving Zhu Yuling no time to draw breath, attacking her opponent’s service, just as in the opening game, Mima Ito went ahead 5-1. Mima Ito was ever more confident, Zhu Yuling was mentally in an abyss, she was facing a defeat, the margins of which she had never previously experienced.
She closed the gap but at 10-7, it was three match points for Mima Ito; at the second attempt Mima Ito converted.
“I was very focused, play one point at a time; suddenly I won the match, it’s incredible. In Halmstad at the World Championships I won against China. Today I did it again; that’s the best for me that I could do it again.” Mima Ito
Pertinently for Zhu Yuling, it was her third appearance in an ITTF World Tour Women’s Singles final in Sweden, the ninth appearance overall in her career. In Stockholm she had won in 2014 but the following year had finished in runners up spot. In addition in 2014, she had won in Kuwait, in 2015 on home soil in China, as well as earlier this year in the Korea Republic. The top step of the podium, in 2010 and 2015 in Japan, also in 2017 in Germany, it had been runners up spot. In 2018 in Sweden it was runners up spot again.
It was for Mima Ito her eighth career ITTF World Tour Women’s Singles final. In 2015 she won in both Germany and Belarus, in the 2016 in Austria, in 2017 in the Czech Republic followed by success earlier this year on home soil in Japan. In 2015 in the Korea Republic and in 2017 in Bulgaria she was the runner up.
There was no second place in Stockholm, of all the finals, in the Eriksdalshallen it was the most convincing of all and against the best in the world, the number one.