by Ian Marshall, Editor
She heads a strong Japanese entry; notably Hitomi Sato, Miyu Kato, Saki Shibata and Honoka Hashimoto, also appear prominently on the women’s list, as for the men do the names of Masataka Morizono and Yukiya Uda.
Like Kasumi Ishikawa, Hitomi Sato has enjoyed ITTF World Tour women’s singles success, she won in 2016 in Croatia. Similarly, both prevailed last year at ITTF Challenge Series tournaments; Hitomi Sato won her career fourth by succeeding in Thailand, later in the year, Kasumi Ishikawa secured her first when competing in Canada.
Similarly, Miyu Kato succeeded last year, winning in Spain, having the previous year won in Slovenia. However, in terms of numbers, of those competing in Lisbon, Saki Shibata is ahead of the field. Commencing in 2017 in Belgium she has emerged the winner five times.
In Lisbon, Kasumi Ishikawa is the top seed, ahead of Hitomi Sato; Puerto Rico’s Adriana Diaz, winner at the recent Universal 2020 Pan America Cup is the next in line, followed by Chinese Taipei’s Chen Szu-Yu and Thailand’s Suthasini Sawettabut. Saki Shibata and the venerable Ni Xia Lian complete the top eight names.
Competition for most successful
Prominent in the women’s singles, it is the same in the women’s doubles in what could well be a competition between Japanese pairs to determine the most successful ever at ITTF Challenge Series tournaments.
Satsuki Odo and Saki Shibata, who by winning last week in Spain, secured their sixth women’s doubles title. Thus they equalled the record of Honoka Hashimoto and Hitomi Sato.
In Lisbon, Honoka Hashimoto and Hitomi Sato occupy the no.2 seeded spot; Satsuki Odo and Saki Shibata appear one place below. Chinese Taipei’s Chen Szu-Yu and Cheng Hsien-Tzu, semi-finalists at the Agricultural Bank of China 2019 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals, top the list.
Japan to the fore in the women’s events, to a lesser extent it is the same in the men’s competition.
Masataka Morizono, winner at the 2019 ITTF Challenge Series Paraguay Open, is the no.5 seed, Yukiya Uda, yet to win but the runner up in 2018 in Belgium and last year in Belarus, is the no.7 seed. Moreover, he is a player in form, earlier this year he won the men’s singles title at the Japanese National Championships.
Top of the list is Egypt’s Omar Assar followed by Austria’s Robert Gardos, Frenchman Emmanuel Lebesson and Wang Yang; the name to note being Robert Gardos, at the recent CCB 2020 ITTF Europe Top 16 tournament in Montreux he finished in third place. Masataka Morizono is the no.5 seed with Chinese Taipei’s Chen Chien-An, the next on the list ahead of Yukiya Uda. Portugal’s Tiago Apolonia is the no.8 seed.
A notable Japanese presence, it is the same in the men’s doubles but not in the mixed.
Winners last year in Croatia, Shunsuke Togami and Yukiya Uda head the men’s doubles order, Slovakia’s Lubomir Pistej and Barbora Balazova, triumphant in December in Canada, occupy the mixed doubles top spot.
Meanwhile, the leading names in the under 21 men’s singles event are India’s Manav Vikash Thakkar and Frenchman Bastien Rembert; in the under 21 women’s singles, Japan’s Maki Shiomi, the winner last week in Spain, heads the list, Romania’s Andreea Dragoman is the no.2 seed.