A torturous journey, on the afternoon of Wednesday 17th March that journey came to a conclusion; most significantly for Thailand’s Suthasini Sawettabut, a positive conclusion, a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
The 26 year old emerged successful in the women’s event at the 2020 World Singles Olympic Games Qualification Tournament in Doha; a precious place in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games was duly reserved.
In the crucial deciding contest, the no.3 seed, Suthasini Sawettabut beat Spain’s Maria Xiao, the no.13 seed and thus maintained tradition; she won in five games (13-11, 5-11, 11-9, 11-9, 11-8).
Notably, they had met on four prior occasions on the international scene, all four meetings being decided in five games in favour of Suthasini Sawettabut!
In 2007 they confronted each other in the junior girls’ singles competition at the Swedish Junior and Cadet Open in Örebro (8-11, 9-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-5); two years later they met in the women’s singles event at the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games (11-8, 8-11, 11-6, 13-15, 12-10).
The next meeting was at the 2016 ITTF World Tour in Austria, a similar verdict (11-2, 11-5, 11-5, 8-11, 11-5). Meanwhile, more recently, the Thail star prevailed at the 2020 ITTF Challenge Portugal Plus Open(2-11, 13-11, 11-2, 11-7, 11-5).
Success for Suthasini Sawettabut, the culmination of a most professional approach. Facing Maria Xiao, she proved the more positive player, faster on her feet, prepared to seize the opportunity as the left handed Spaniard tried to create angles from the backhand but was never sufficiently assertive.
Neither player was able to assume command but at the vital stages it was Suthasini Sawettabut who held sway; crucially in the fourth game she trailed 8-9, won the next three points and from that moment maintained an advantage.
In Doha, after accounting for Sweden’s Stina Källberg, the no.40 seed (11-3, 11-9, 11-8, 5-11, 11-9), Suthasini Sawettabut had ended the progress of Luxembourg’s Sara de Nutte, the no.15 seed (11-8, 11-6, 11-9, 11-9), prior to losing to the defensive attributes of Russia’s Polina Mikhailova, the no.5 seed (11-8, 11-6, 9-11, 11-9, 7-11, 11-8).
A setback but only temporary; one day later Suthasini Sawettabut beat Ukraine’s Margaryta Pesotska, the no.2 seed (4-11, 11-9, 11-9, 11-8, 11-9), to set the scene for the meeting with Maria Xiao.
Successfully the meeting was concluded.
Women’s Singles Qualifiers - 2020 World Singles Olympic Games Tournament
Britt Eerland (Netherlands), Linda Bergström (Sweden), Polina Mikhailova (Russia), Yang Xiaoxin (Monaco), Suthasini Sawettabut (Thailand)
Editor: Ian Marshall