by Simon Daish
Anything but a routine affair, Shao and Carey, seeded fourth and 25th respectively, pushed each other to the limit in a tense contest. A fine comeback from Carey to force a deciding game, the British competitor held five match point opportunities to her name, but couldn’t convert as Shao performed a mini-recovery of her own to squeeze through by the narrowest of margins.
Next in line for Shao is a semi-final showdown with French no.9 seed Yuan Jia Nan, a player who appears unstoppable at this moment in time.
Responsible for the exits of Italian no.5 seed Debora Vivarelli and Slovak no.2 seed Babora Balazova, Yuan was just as unforgiving against Spain’s Maria Xiao, making light work of the no.6 seed with a straight games victory (16-14, 11-6, 11-7, 11-5).
Not showing any signs of slowing down, a second French player is through to the semi-finals in Guimarães following another sublime display from 16-year-old Prithika Pavade. Seeded six positions below her opponent from Ukraine, no.28 seed Solomiya Brateyko, it was Pavade who looked the brighter of the two right from the start, and before long the latter player’s advantage grew too large to contend with (11-5, 11-7, 4-11, 11-5, 11-7).
Pavade is on a sensational run and will require another class performance on day four with Russia’s Yana Noskova standing between the teenager and a ticket to Tokyo!
Third seed Noskova very nearly missed out on the opportunity to represent her country in the semi-finals, as Sweden’s Christina Källberg recovered from 3-1 down to force a deciding seventh game in their encounter. Momentum firmly against her, but Noskova showed nerves of steel to get the job done 4-3 (11-7, 12-14, 11-6, 11-3, 6-11, 8-11, 11-4).
Four players remain all fully aware of what’s at stake – for the two winners, passage to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, while the two defeated semi-finalists must prepare for further action.