by Simon Daish
Occupying 619th position in the ITTF Table Tennis Youth Ranking list, Croatia’s Vidakovic outperformed expectations to finish ahead of Portugal’s Patricia Santos and Slovakia’s Ema Cincurova in the group stage.
With confidence on her side, Vidakovic followed up with two main draw victories at the expense of Slovakia’s Dominika Wiltschkova (11-6, 11-4, 11-7) and Spain’s Ainhoa Cristobal (3-11, 11-8, 11-8, 5-11, 11-4).
Next up for the Croatian is none other than title favourite Elena Zaharia of Romania. Coming through two gruelling group fixtures against Portugal’s Ines Salgado and Luxembourg’s Enisa Sadikovic, world number 10 Zaharia weathered an early storm in both of her knock-out matches, defeating Hungarian opponent Dorottya Tolgyes (12-14, 11-4, 12-10, 11-4) and Germany’s Naomi Pranjkovic (11-13, 11-8, 11-4, 11-9) to qualify for the quarter-finals.
Another player anticipated to compete in the latter stages of the tournament, Hana Arapovic experienced elimination in the round of 16 with the Croatian succumbing to a shock defeat at the hands of Uzbekistan’s Markhabo Magdieva (11-7, 11-7, 9-11, 11-7).
Play in the Under-13 Girls’ Singles event was limited to group stage action with eight main draw positions up for grabs across the four groups.
The highest ranked entry in the category, Germany’s Faustyna Stefanska is safely through to the knock-out stage. Opening her account with a four-game victory over Uzbekistan’s Arujan Kamalova (11-4, 6-11, 11-5, 11-7), Stefanska, ranked 14th in the Youth Rankings, needed one game less in her meeting with the host nation’s Joana Pinto (12-10, 11-6, 11-4) to make it two wins from two.
Portugal’s very own Julia Leal was also amongst the list of group winners, fighting back from behind to see off Slovakia’s Emma Molnarova 3-2 (11-2, 3-11, 6-11, 11-5, 11-8) before backing it up with successful outings against the Uzbek duo of Dilyora Davletova (11-6, 11-4, 11-7) and Diyora Toshpulatova (11-5, 11-4, 11-6).
Against expectations, Germany’s Josephina Neumann beat Portugal’s Susana Costa to top spot in her group, while Spain’s Maria Berzosa enjoyed a perfect day in Vila Real with three successes to her name.
The WTT Youth Contender Vila Real heads into another exciting day of action on Sunday with the finals of the Under-13 and Under-17 Girls’ Singles ready to be contested.
For more information and live match coverage, please visit worldtabletennis.com
About World Table Tennis
Successfully launched in 2021, WTT heralds a new era for professional table tennis with the new WTT Series showcasing the sport’s best and up-and-coming table tennis players in up to 34 events around the world. The WTT Series features four Grand Smashes as the pillars of the support, eight single-table, single-gender WTT Champions events, the WTT Contender Series and the season-ending WTT Cup Finals, all of which will entertain fans and inspire future generations of table tennis players. Complemented by the global WTT Youth Series, WTT creates a pathway that showcases the journey of a player from day one to World No. 1 through the ITTF Table Tennis World Rankings. For more information, please visit worldtabletennis.com