by Ian Marshall, Editor
German adversaries proved very much to the liking of Kirill Gerassimenko; at the semi-final stage he beat Steffen Mengel, the no.22 seed (11-4, 4-11, 11-7, 12-10, 11-6), before accounting for Benedikt Duda, the top seed, the claim gold (11-6, 11-6, 10-12, 7-11, 13-11, 6-11, 11-7).
Success and two steps higher up the ladder; his previous ITTF Challenge Series best being a men’s singles semi-final finish in 2017 in Poland and the following year in Thailand.
In the opposite half of the draw, Benedikt Duda, who at the recent 2020 ITTF World Tour Platinum German Open had beaten Sweden’s Mattias Falck in the opening round, before narrowly losing the China’s rapidly improving Zhao Zihao, once again displayed good form. He ended the hopes of Finland’s Benedek Olah, the no.13 seed and winner on the ITTF World Tour in 2016 in Nigeria (11-4, 11-5, 9-11, 11-5, 13-11)
Impressive from the attacking top spin skills of Kirill Gerassimenko, it was the same from the elegant defensive attributes of Honoka Hashimoto.
At the semi-final stage she beat Singapore’s Zeng Jian, the no.10 seed (11-7, 11-7, 11-6, 11-7), prior overcoming Monaco’s Yang Xiaoxin, the no.4 seed to secure gold (11-7, 11-9, 11-9, 7-11, 11-9).
Hard fought success but not as dramatic as the win clinched the previous round by Yang Xiaoxin, the winner on the ITTF World Tour in 2014 in Croatia and 2016 in the Czech Republic. She needed the full seven games to beat Germany’s Shan Xiaona, the no.5 seed, only emerging successful by the very narrowest of margins (6-11, 11-9, 11-9, 8-11, 11-5, 6-11, 13-11).
Gold for Honoka Hashimoto, her second such career title in what was her ninth ITTF Challenge Series women’s singles final; in 2017, she had won in Croatia. Seven times the runner up, in the women’s doubles event in Granada that was to her lot; partnering colleague Maki Shiomi, the no.2 seeds, the duo experienced defeat at the hands of compatriots Satsuki Odo and Saki Shibata, the top seeds (11-7, 11-5, 11-7).
Success for Satsuki Odo and Saki Shibata, their sixth such title since means they match colleagues. Somewhat ironically the result means that Honoka Hashimoto now shares the record; she has won six times with Hitomi Sato.
Brothers in harmony
Adding to the list, Iran’s Nima Alamian and Noshad Alamiyan, the top seeds and winners on the ITTF World Tour in 2015 in Belgium added to their list of honours; they accounted for Korea Republic’s Baek Kwangil and Park Chan-Hyeok (11-6, 13-11, 8-11, 11-9) to claim men’s doubles gold.
Play concluded in Granada, next on the agenda is the 2020 ITTF Challenge Plus Portugal Open, play commences in Lisbon with qualification on Wednesday 12th February.