by Simon Daish
A truly magnificent showing from the Swede who showcased some of her best table tennis to date, Bergström always looked comfortable and in control of the ball while keeping unforced errors to a minimum. Awarded the final point of the match, an emotional Bergström thrust her arms in the air in celebration after realising qualification to the grandest of stages had been secured!
“I have no words, it was unbelievable, hard to describe. I had decided before all of my matches that I should just go in and be offensive and I think I did just that. There were so many strong players in the previous rounds who will continue in the next one, so I felt it was important that, now that I had the chance to take this spot, that I took it!” Linda Bergström
Pesotska proved unable to assert herself on the front foot throughout the match and will leave the court with few complaints. Now she turns her focus toward the second knockout stage with no room for error.
Polina Mikhailova also overcame higher-seeded opposition during the evening’s programme with the no. 5 seed from Russia proving too strong for Thailand’s Suthasini Sawettabut, no.3 seed, in the knockout 3 final (11-8, 11-6, 9-11, 11-9, 7-11, 11-8).
Meeting for the first time since their Round of 32 clash in Doha at the 2016 ITTF World Tour Qatar Open, Mikhailova was eyeing up revenge having lost out to the Thai player on that occasion, and she more than lived up to the task. Mikhailova set the standard from minute one and was most deserving of her 3-1 lead – an immediate response from Sawettabut kept the match alive, but Mikhailova dashed the Thai hopeful’s dreams soon after with another solid display in game six ensuring her ticket to Tokyo.
Top seed Britt Eerland is also bound for the Japanese capital after cruising to a convincing victory over Spanish no.16 seed Galia Dvorak (11-5, 12-10, 12-10, 11-7). Negotiating a stern test earlier in the day when she needed the full distance to fend off Chile’s Paulina Vega, the final proved less complicated for the Dutch competitor. However, Eerland was forced to work hard at times by Dvorak, particularly in games two and three which saw the Europeans separated by just two points!
Dvorak wasn’t the only Spanish competitor involved in action during the session with Mario Xiao also giving it her all in pursuit of qualification. Just like her fellow compatriot before her, 13th seed Xiao kept the belief right until the very end, but today wasn’t to be her day as Monaco’s Yang Xiaoxin, no.4 seed, edged a facinating contest (14-12, 8-11, 4-11, 11-7, 11-3, 9-11, 12-10).