17 May 2019

Third round exits earlier in the month contrary to seeding in Serbia and Slovenia; on Friday 17th May at the Seamaster 2019 ITTF Challenge Croatia Open in Zagreb, Tomislav Pucar was back to the form he had displayed some three weeks earlier at the Liebherr 2019 World Championships in Budapest.

Equally, just as in the Hungarian capital city when Sweden thanks to the efforts of Mattias Falck had excelled; in Zagreb the Nordic country shone again, this time in the guise of Kristian Karlsson and Anton Källberg.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Success for Croatia and Sweden, as the men’s and women’s singles semi-finalists were decided alongside the men’s and women’s doubles finalists; however, if there was one country that enjoyed success more than any other, it was Japan.

Men’s Singles

…………Tomislav Pucar, the no.9 seed, was in no mood for charity; he beat Japanese qualifier Takuya Jin (11-7, 13-11, 7-11, 11-3, 13-11), before recording a quarter-final success against Russia’s Kirill Skachkov, the no.13 seed (11-5, 11-6, 11-4, 11-5).

…………Kristian Karlsson awaits Tomislav Pucar in the semi-finals; the no.2 seed, he booked his penultimate round place in an imposing fashion. He beat Germany’s Benedikt Duda, the no.6 seed, in straight games (11-7, 11-6, 11-9, 11-6.

…………Ten matches without defeat since he started his quest in Slovenia, the run of Croatia’s Wei Shihao was ended in the third round by Chinese Taipei’s Chuang Chih-Yuan, the top seed (5-11, 11-7, 11-4, 11-3, 6-11, 7-11, 11-8). Chuang Chih-Yuan duly booked his place in the semi-final round by ousting Japanese qualifier Shunsuke Togami (5-11, 11-8, 11-4, 11-6, 11-6).

………… Anton Källberg, the no.32 seed, faces Chuang Chih-Yuan in the semi-finals but he did things the hard way. He beat Kanak Jha of the United States, the no.3 seed, in seven games (11-13, 8-11, 11-6, 11-9, 9-11, 12-10, 11-8), before in an even closer quarter-final contest overcoming Belgium’s Robin Devos, the no.22 seed (5-11, 11-7, 11-8, 11-3, 7-11, 7-11, 12-10).

Women’s Singles

…………Japan booked all four semi-final places, Miyu Nagasaki meets Miyuu Kihara; Satsuki Odo opposes Miyu Kato.

…………Satsuki Odo caused the biggest third round surprise, the no.14 seed, she beat Romania’s Elizabeta Samara, the no.4 seed (11-6, 14-12, 4-11, 8-11, 12-10, 11-8). One round later she ended the progress of Korea Republic qualifier Shin Yubin (10-12, 11-4, 11-6, 11-8, 11-5).

…………Miyu Nagasaki and Miyuu Kihara afforded impressive quarter-final performances; Miyu Nagasaki, the no.18 seed, beat colleague and qualifier, Haruna Ojio (11-3, 9-11, 11-8, 11-7, 11-4). Miyuu Kihara, the no.19 seed, caused a significant upset; she accounted for Puerto Rico’s Adriana Diaz, the no.7 seed (13-11, 11-6, 12-10, 12-10).

…………Miyu Kato, the no.5 seed, excelled in the quarter-finals; she ended the hopes of colleague and defending champion, Saki Shibata, the no.2 seed (11-9, 9-11, 11-5, 11-6, 11-4).

Men’s Doubles

…………Japan’s Shunsuke Togami and Yukiya Uda, required to qualify, emerged surprise men’s doubles finalists. They beat Brazil’s Eric Jouti and Gustavo Tsuboi, the no.2 seeds (12-10, 11-8, 12-10), before recording a penultimate round success in opposition to Germany’s Benedikt Duda and Qiu Dang, the no.4 seeds (7-11, 12-10, 12-10, 11-7).

…………Belgium’s Martin Allegro and Florent Lambiet, the top seeds, reserved their place in the final but experienced exacting moments. At the semi-final stage, they needed the full five games to beat Sweden’s Anton Källberg and Truls Moregard, the no.7 seeds (11-7, 6-11, 4-11, 11-7, 11-5).

Women’s Doubles

…………Japan’s Honoka Hashimoto and Hitomi Sato booked their place in the women’s doubles final but only just. In the penultimate round, they beat Norway’s Ma Wenting and Romania’s Elizabeta Samara, the no.4 seeds, by the very narrowest of margins (4-11, 11-4, 6-11, 11-3, 12-10).

…………A repeat of the Slovenia final five days earlier and the same outcome; Miyuu Kihara and Miyu Nagasaki, the no.5 seeds, accounted for Japanese colleagues Satsuki Odo and Saki Shibata, the no.2 seeds (11-8, 14-12, 10-12, 17-15) to reserve their place in the final.

Challenge Series 2019 Croatia Open Tomislav Pucar

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