24 Jun 2019

The top three seeds in the women’s singles event at the Minsk 2019 2nd European Games all suffered fourth round defeats on Monday 24th June.

A unique tournament, the pressure of a place the Japanese capital city for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games is taking its in the Belarus capital city.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Romania’s Bernadette Szocs, the top seed experienced defeat at the hands of Luxembourg’s 56 year old Ni Xia Lian (11-7, 11-8, 11-9, 7-11, 9-11, 8-11, 11-7), a player who has a distinct liking for Tokyo.

It was in that city in 1983, some 12 years before Bernadette Szocs was born, when Ni Xia Lian made her World Championships debut. She was a member of the gold medal winning Chinese team and partnered Guo Yuehua to mixed doubles success.

“This was a crazy match that made everyone nervous. I had a chance to finish the duel in the fifth game but I lost my focus. In next game, Bernadette was really good but when the decisive fifth game came, I had a better head. Szocs is very young and she improves with each tournament; sometimes more experience could help a little. Everybody comes prepared here, there is no doubt about it but sometimes the pressure is too high.” Ni Xia Lian

Defeat for Bernadette Szocs came after Germany’s Han Ying had proved too secure in defence for Austria’s Sofia Polcanova, the no.2 seed (12-10, 13-11, 13-11, 11-8).

“It was close, because in each game Polcanova commenced with new tactics. She did not play in her usual style and she changed things in each game; that gave her a little advantage but I have a good record against her and I was very confident. I managed to recover every time.” Han Ying

Success for one defender, soon after it was success for another; Russia’s Polina Mikhailova beat Sweden’s Matilda Ekholm, the no.3 seed (11-5, 11-13, 9-11, 11-8, 5-11, 11-7, 11-8).

“I never won against Matilda before and we have played so many times against each other; when I managed to win the opening game; that give me slight advantage. It boosted my confidence and I think it affected her game too. She made mistakes on first ball, which is not usual. Also, I had my downs. I lost the second game after I led 10-8. After that I lost third very easy. When we reached decisive game I told myself “yell, shout, do whatever it takes, just win”. I do not know how I managed to win.” Polina Mikhailova

The results mean that Germany’s Petrissa Solja is the highest ranked player remaining in the women’s singles event; in the fourth round, the no.4 seed, she beat Poland’s Li Qian, the reigning European champion (12-14, 11-8, 10-12, 11-6, 5-11, 12-10, 11-5).

2019 European Games Bernadette Szocs Ni Xia Lian

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