by Simon Daish
Evenly matched in the opening stages of the women’s singles final, no.3 seed Suthasini Sawettabut and Spain’s Maria Xiao, seeded 13th, both brought their usual game to the table showcasing their attacking prowess and speed for all to see. Two players with similar philosophies, the difference between the two was always going to come down to who could dictate the tempo better and that proved to be Sawettabut.
Nothing to separate the finalists by the conclusion of game two, the margins remained tight until the very end but a clear winner would emerge with Sawettabut claiming three games on the bounce to win her ticket to Tokyo, accomplishing the very goal she had set out to achieve in Doha (13-11, 5-11, 11-9, 11-9, 11-8).
“I feel very happy to have qualified for the Olympics. These will be my second Olympics. It was very difficult, she is a left-hander and she played very well in this match. I tried my best, tried to calm down and play it point by point.” Suthasini Sawettabut
Success for Suthasini Sawettabut, she joins the Netherland’s Britt Eerland, Sweden’s Linda Bergström, Russia’s Polina Mikhailova and Monaco’s Yang Xiaoxin in securing qualification for the Games.
The men’s singles final provided 13th seed Kirill Skachkov with another opportunity to shine, having rightly earnt his fair share of praise in Doha but victory over Great British no.1 seed Liam Pitchford would prove his greatest scalp yet!
Playing a key role in determining the outcome of the match, Skachkov’s power on the forehand was truly unforgiving at times and Pitchford didn’t appear to have a response. A huge roar and wild scenes of celebration from Skachkov brought the tie to a close with the Russian prevailing by an impressive 4-1 score-line (11-7, 7-11, 11-8, 14-12, 11-7).
Kirill Skachkov is the fourth man to earn his Olympic Games ticket at the World Singles Qualification Tournament following in the footsteps of the Czech Republic’s Lubomir Jancarik, Hungary’s Bence Majoros and Slovakia’s Wang Yang.