by Ian Marshall
At the semi-final stage Sathiyan Gnanasekaran accounted for Truls Moregard, the no.3 seed, the Swede being required to withdraw from proceedings at the end of the third game owing to injury (11-4, 11-8, 11-2, inj); a place in the final booked, he accounted for Ukraine’s Yevhen Pryshchepa, the no.4 seed (11-9, 11-6, 11-6, 14-12) to seal the title.
In the opposite half of the draw, in the penultimate round, Yevhen Pryshchepa had ended the hopes of Austria’s Andreas Levenko, the no.7 seed (11-9, 11-4, 11-8, 11-8).
Success for Sathiyan Gnanasekaran meant he collected his third men’s singles title at an open international tournament. In 2016 he prevailed on the ITTF World Tour in De Haan, accounting for Belgium’s Cédric Nuytinck in the final, before in 2017 emerging successful at the ITTF Challenge Series Spanish Open in Almeria. On that occasion he beat Japan’s Kazuhiro Yoshimura in the title decider.
A third for Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, for Yang Xiaoxin it was a fourth at a favourite destination, having succeeded on the ITTF World Tour in 2014 in Zagreb, two years later she won in Olomouc. On both occasions she overcame Japanese opposition in the final, in Zagreb she prevailed against Misako Wakamiya, in Olomouc, she defeated Maki Shiomi.
Victory again in Olomouc and it was victory again in August; the previous week she had succeeded at the WTT Contender Budapest tournament overcoming Russia’s Elizabet Abraamian in the final.
One week later; after overcoming Audrey Zarif of France, the no.9 seed (11-8, 8-11, 11-7, 11-13, 11-2, 11-2), she accounted for Mariia Tailakova, the no.8 seed and like Elizabet Abraamian for Russia (13-11, 11-4, 11-3, 11-9) to seal the title. In the counterpart semi-final Mariia Tailakova eventually overcame the defensive skills of Sweden’s Linda Bergström, the no.3 seed (11-9, 9-11, 8-11, 11-9, 11-6, 10-12, 11-6).
Earlier in the afternoon session of play, the Czech Republic’s Zdena Blaskova and Katerina Tomanovska, the no.8 seeds, had beaten Poland’s Anna Wegrzyn and Katarzyna Wegrzyn, the no.2 seeds (6-11, 11-9, 10-12, 11-2, 11-9) to secure women’s doubles gold; Truls Moregard and England’s Sam Walker had joined forces to clinch the men’s doubles title.
The top seeds, at the final hurdle they overcame French qualifiers Lilian Bardet and Leo de Nodrest (10-12, 11-8, 11-7, 7-11, 11-7).
Success for Sam Walker and somewhat of a milestone; no English player ever won a men’s doubles title on the ITTF World Tour or at an ITTF Challenge Series tournament.
In fact, we have to go back to 1976 since an English pair won a men’s doubles title at a major international open tournament; Desmond Douglas and Denis Neale won in 1976 at the English Open.