18 Nov 2018

Winners just over three weeks ago in Belgium; in Minsk on Sunday 18th November, Japan’s Satsuki Odo and Saki Shibata repeated the success. They won Women’s Doubles title at the 2018 ITTF Challenge Belgosstrakh Belarus Open.

The no.2 seeds, at the final hurdle they accounted for the combination of Slovakia’s Barbora Balazova and the Czech Republic’s Hana Matelova in three straight games (11-3, 11-4, 11-7).

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Fast out of the blocks, the quicker to take the initiative, from the very first point of the match, Satsuki Odo and Saki Shibata made their intentions clear. They captured the first five points of the opening game and never relinquished their grip on proceedings.

Similarly, in the second game they raced into a 4-1 lead, Barbora Balazova and Hana Matelova reduced the deficit to one point at 5-4 but that the was the last point they were to win.

Clutching at straws, continually forced into the passive role, Barbora Balazova and Hana Matelova gained a degree of respite in the third game, they won the opening two points but then lost the next three. Understandably they called “Time Out”; they levelled at 4-all but never regained the lead.

Quite simply, Satsuki Odo and Saki Shibata were proving too fast, at 10-7 they held three game points; at the first attempt the opportunity was seized. Speed won the day; the speed at which they seized the opportunities, the speed of their attacking play, the speed of their movement.

Semi-finalists earlier in the year in Croatia, runners up in Poland, in Minsk once more for Barbora Balazova and Hana Matelova it was so near yet so far.

Conversely for Satsuki Odo and Saki Shibata; it was continued success. At ITTF Challenge Series tournaments this year, in addition to winning in Belgium; earlier this year in Poland they reached the quarter-finals, in Spain the penultimate round, before in Thailand being the runners up. The progress continued in Minsk

Challenge Series 2018 Belarus Open Saki Shibata Satsuki Odo Hana Matelova Barbora Balazova

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Day 4 - 2018 ITTF Challenge Belarus Open