by Ian Marshall, Editor
Never has either the men’s singles or women’s singles event been won by a player from the host nation; however, this year they have the best chance ever.
Benedek Olah, winner on the ITTF World Tour in 2016 in Nigeria, is the men’s singles top name; he is listed ahead of Japan’s Kaito Yoshida and Koyo Kanamitsu. Switzerland’s Lionel Weber is the no.4 seed.
Similarly, in the women’s singles event there is a major challenge from Finland, Anna Kirichenko is the no.3 seed ahead of Iran’s Neda Shahsavari. Norway’s Ma Wenting and Kazakhstan’s Anastassiya Lavrova occupy the respective top two positions.
Notably play is conducted on a progressive knock-out system; thus players are guaranteed some seven or eight matches at least as they compete for positions. It is ideal for aspiring young players, as has always been the situation at the Finlandia Open.
Prior to the advent of the ITTF World Tour, the tournament was always organised on the traditional basis. Moreover, it was a very popular destination. The roll of honour includes both Olympic and World champions.
China’s Liu Guoliang won the men’s singles event in 1993; Sweden’s Jan-Ove Waldner emerged successful in 1995. Likewise, in the women’s singles; on duty for China in 1985, He Zhili prevailed as in 1989 and 1991 did Qiao Hong.
Team events commence play
No doubt enthralling men’s and women’s singles events await but it is the men’s team and women’s team competitions which start matters.
Kaito Yoshida and Koyo Kanamisu occupy the men’s team top seeded position; next in line is Benedek Olah and colleague, Alex Naumi. Venezuela’s Cecilio Correa and Jan Medina followed by Kazakhstan’s Aidos Kenzhigulov and Bekulan Zhamal complete the top four pairs.
Meanwhile, in the women’s team competition, Neda Shasavari and Iranian colleague Mahshid Ashtari, comprise the top seeded combination. Laura Pfeffer and Oceane Guisnel of France are the no.2 seeds; Kazakhstan in the guise of Anastassiya Lavrova and Alsu Saparova, the no.3 seeds; Alina Nikitchanka and Katsiaryna Baravok the no.4 seeds.
Overall a total of 120 men and 75 women from 29 national associations will compete; for the eighth consecutive year the venue is the Kisakallio Sports Institute, a short walk from the accommodation.
2019 Finlandia Open: Entries & seeding
2019 Finlandia Open: Team Event Draw
2019 Finlandia Open: Local Website
2019 Finlandia Open: Roll of Honour