05 May 2019

England’s Paul Drinkhall and Japan’s Hina Hayata won the respective men’s singles and women’s singles titles on Sunday 5th May at the Seamaster 2019 ITTF Challenge Serbia Open in Belgrade.

Meanwhile, in the men’s doubles event it was success for Portugal in the guise of Diogo Carvalho and João Geraldo, in the women’s doubles Hong Kong’s Ng Wing Nam and Minnie Soo Wai Yam reserved the top step of podium.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Dazzling performances entertained none more so than by Paul Drinkhall.

Men’s Singles

…………The no.12 seed, Paul Drinkhall beat French qualifier, Abdel-Kader Salifou in the final, a contest in which he saved two game points in the third and then hit hot streak conceding a mere five further points (8-11, 10-12, 12-10, 11-3, 11-2, 11-1).

…………At the semi-final stage Frenchman, Andrea Landrieu, the no.21 seed, lost to Paul Drinkhall (11-2, 11-3, 8-11, 6-11, 9-11, 11-4, 11-5); Puerto Rico’s Brian Afanador, the no.19 seed, experienced defeat at the hands of Abdel-Kader Salifou (11-13, 9-11, 11-9, 12-10, 11-8, 11-7). Noteworthy performances, for both it was their best ever finished tournament of such a stature.

…………It was for Paul Drinkhall his second such success; in 2014 he had won on the ITTF World Tour in Spain.

Women’s Singles

…………Japan’s Hina Hayata justified her top seeded position. After accounting for Russia’s Polina Mikhailova, the no.5 seed (11-5, 11-4, 11-7, 11-8) she beat Hong Kong’s Minnie Soo Wai Yam, the no.2 seed (11-9, 11-7, 10-12, 11-9, 11-9) to arrest the title.

…………It was the third Challenge series win of the year for Hina Hayata, earlier she had won in Portugal and Oman; she needs one more to match the record of colleague Saki Shibata. Last year she won four times, succeeding in Belgium, Belarus, Croatia and Spain.

…………For Minnie Soo Wai Yam it was step forward; her first ever women’s singles final at an ITTF Challenge series tournament or on the ITTF World Tour.

Men’s Doubles

…………Portugal’s Diogo Carvalho and João Geraldo, who had started life in the qualification stage, beat the host nation’s Marko Jevtovic and Zsolt Peto, the no.8 seeds (11-5, 11-3, 13-11) to secure their first ever such title.

Women’s Doubles

…………Ng Wing Nam and Minnie Soo Wai Yam, the top seeds, claimed women’s doubles gold. At the final hurdle they best Hungary’s Dora Madarasz and Szandra Pergel (12-10, 12-10, 9-11, 9-11, 11-7). It was a first such success for Hong Kong duo.

Challenge Series 2019 Seamaster Serbia Open Hina Hayata Paul Drinkhall Minnie Soo Wai Yam João Geraldo Ng Wing Nam Diogo Carvalho

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