by Ian Marshall, Editor
Five points to note…………….
A decade later
In the men’s singles event Sharath Kamal Achanta, the no.4 seed, accounted for Russia’s Kirill Skachkov, the no.9 seed (11-13, 11-13, 13-11, 11-9, 13-11, 8-11, 11-7), before overcoming Portugal’s Marcos Freitas, the top seed, to claim the top prize (6-11, 11-8, 12-10, 11-9, 3-11, 17-15).
It was a second career men’s singles title for Sharath Kamal Achanta; the one previous occasion was in 2010 when on the ITTF World Tour in Cairo, he beat Hong Kong’s Li Ching in the final.
Moreover, it was almost an all Indian final; at the semi-final stage Harmeet Desai had held a three games to one lead against Marcos Freitas before losing (5-11, 11-9, 6-11, 6-11, 11-8, 13-11, 11-5). The fact underlines the increasing quality of Indian players.
Defensive are successful
The top seed, Hitomi Sato beat colleague Miyu Kato in a gruelling duel that required the introduction of the Expedite Rule; she prevailed in six games (14-16, 12-14, 17-15, 11-9, 11-8, 11-9).
It was her sixth such title at an open international tournament, her fifth on the ITTF Challenge Series, the latter the same number as Saki Shibata but one behind Hina Hayata.
Technically correct, once again Hitomi Sato proved the defender can succeed in an age when sport becomes ever faster.
Talent in depth
Three out of the four women’s singles semi-finalists were from Japan; in addition to Hitomi Sato and Miyu Kato, Honoka Hashimoto reached the penultimate round.
Honoka Hashimoto, the no.4 seed, lost to Hitomi Sato (11-6, 8-11, 10-12, 11-9, 6-11, 11-3, 11-7); Miyu Kato ended the hopes of Monaco’s Yang Xiaoxin, the 6 seed (11-9, 11-8, 11-5, 11-7).
Hitomi Sato is 22 years old, Honoko Hashimoto one year younger; Miyu Kato is 21 years of age; none have been selected for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games but if they were allowed to play in the women’s team as a trio, could they win bronze?
Right handed, need a quality left handed doubles partner, he may be 44 years old but there are few better as Aleksandar Karakasevic proved; the golden hands once again worked to perfection.
Partnering Lubomir Pistej, the no.3 seeds, the duo beat the recently crowned Belgian champions, Martin Allegro and Florent Lambiet, the top seeds (11-8, 11-6, 11-6) to secure the title.
A first such final for Aleksandar Karakasevic and Lubomir Pistej as a pair; a third for Martin Allegro and Florent Lambiet, a third silver medal.
Honoka Hashimoto and Hitomi Sato, the top seeds, beat Singapore’ s Lin Ye and Zeng Jian, the no.2 seeds, to claim the women’s doubles title; they proved far too secure in defence, the result a straight games outcome (11-3, 11-9, 11-7).
Overall since 2017 when the Challenge Series became a separate entity to the ITTF World Tour, they have now secured seven such titles.
They equal colleagues Satsuki Odo and Saki Shibata.