2020 ITTF Challenge Plus Oman Open
Sunday 15th March
Hitomi Sato emerges most successful in Muscat
Success on the concluding day of play at the 2020 ITTF Challenge Plus Oman Open in Muscat, Hitomi Sato emerged the most successful player on duty as Japan departed the Gulf state on Sunday 15th March with three titles to their credit.
Hitomi Sato partnered colleague Honoka Hashimoto to women’s doubles gold, prior to securing the women’s singles top prize; on the penultimate day of play, Maki Shiomi had emerged the under 21 women’s singles winner.
At the quarter-final staged of the women’s singles event, having overcome Luxembourg’s Sarah de Nutte, the no.10 seed (11-4, 11-7, 11-8, 11-5), followed by Honoka Hashimoto, the no.4 seed (11-6, 8-11, 10-12, 11-9, 6-11, 11-3, 11-7), Hitomi Sato justified her top seeded position in the draw. In yet another gruelling contest she accounted for a further compatriot in the guise of Mayu Kato, the no.3 seed (14-16, 12-14, 17-15, 11-9, 11-8, 11-9) to seal the title
In the opposite half of the draw, safely through to the quarter-finals, Miyu Kato had ousted Slovakia’s Barbora Balazova, the no.5 seed (11-3, 9-11, 11-4, 11-1, 11-7), followed by success in opposition to Monaco’s Yang Xiaoxin (11-9, 11-8, 11-5, 11-7).
Notably for Hitomi Sato it was her sixth such career success; on the ITTF World Tour she had won in 2016 in Croatia before at ITTF Challenge Series tournaments prevailing in 2017 in Belarus, Slovenia and Thailand as well as last year once again in Thailand.
Hard earned, in the women’s doubles life was less exacting. The top seeds, Honoka Hashimoto and Hitomi Sato remained safe and secure; their defensive play too solid for their adversaries. At the semi-final stage they beat Slovakia’s Barbora Balazova and Tatiana Kukulkova, the no.3 seeds (11-4, 11-7, 5-11, 11-8) prior to securing the title at the final expense of Singapore’s Lin Ye in Zeng Jian, the no.2 seeds (11-8, 11-9, 11-7).
Success for Hitomi Sato and Honoka Hashimoto, the previous day it had been success for Maki Shiomi; the top seed, she beat Spain’s Zhang Sofia-Xuan, the no.4 seed (14-12, 5-11, 11-6, 11-7) to arrest the under 21 women’s singles title.
It was her fifth such title at an open international tournament. In 2017 on the ITTF World Tour in China she had emerged the winner, last year she won in Paraguay; this year she prevailed in both Spain and Portugal. Three ITTF Challenge Series tournaments completed this year, on each occasion Maki Shiomi has won the under 21 women’s singles event!
A fifth for Maki Shiomi, in the counterpart under 21 men’s singles final, it was a first for Jeet Chandra; the no.3 seed, in an all-Indian final, he beat Manav Vikash Thakkar, the top seed (11-6, 11-7, 13-11) to record his milestone win.
Gold for Jeet Chandra but his efforts were rather overshadowed by his senior colleague, 37 year old, Sharath Kamal Achanta. The no.4 seed, after in the later rounds overcoming Finland’s Benedek Olah, the no.16 seed (11-7, 10-12, 11-3, 11-8, 11-6) and Russia’s Kirill Skachov, the no.9 seed (11-13, 11-13, 13-11, 11-9, 13-11, 8-11, 11-7), he accounted for Portugal’s Marcos Freitas, the top seed (6-11, 11-8, 12-10, 11-9, 3-11, 17-15) to secure his second career men’s singles title at an open international tournament. In 2010 he won on the ITTF World Tour in Egypt beating Hong Kong’s Li Ching in the final.
Moreover, there was almost an all Indian final; in the penultimate round, Harmeet Desai had led Marcos Freitas by three games to one, before experiencing defeat (5-11, 11-9, 6-11, 6-11, 11-8, 13-11, 11-5).
Titles for Japan and India, there were also titles for France, Serbia and Slovakia.
Serbia’s Aleksandar Karakasevic and Slovakia’s Lubomir Pistej joined forces to win the men’s doubles event, the no.3 seeds, in the final they beat Belgium’s Martin Allegro and Florent Lambiet, the top seeds (11-8, 11-6, 11-6).
Meanwhile, on the penultimate day of play, the French partnership of Tristan Flore and Laura Gasnier emerged the mixed doubles champions. The no.2 seeds, at the final hurdle they beat Spain’s Alvaro Robles and Maria Xiao, the no.5 seeds (11-7, 11-5, 11-7).