BY MATT HETHERINGTON
One of the most exhilarating moments of the day came in the Women’s Quarterfinals at the 2016 US Open Championship with World Number 95 Adriana Diaz-Gonzalez the ultimate performer. Diaz played the last of the quarterfinals and met Yui Odono of Japan. Her opponent, while having a fresh peak ranking of 172 on the ITTF Women’s World Rankings, still seemed to have great experience which could help provide an advantage over the 16 year old star player from Puerto Rico. It would prove to be the best battle of the day, providing some of the longest rallies of the tournament on numerous occasions with both players giving it their all. As both players maintain an incredible balance of consistency and speed it was a neck and neck duel of impressive placement and a fight for every point.
We saw some impressive creative plays from Diaz and combinations of lobbing, fishing, counterattacking back from the table along with fast counter rallies close to the table. Odono maintaining aggression and a good handle of targeting wide to the backhand and down the line but struggling with Diaz as she refused to surrender no matter what the situation. As the match went to the 7th the stands were packed and even standing room was in short supply. Excitement built as the rally lengths extended longer and longer until we reached a crescendo and Diaz stole the match away. The crowd were delighted at such a great display and amazing points under pressure.
Adriana would go on to win the semifinal over Yume Takahashi, again playing superb rallies even at the end of a long day. There was a fair share of back and forth with the first sets splitting 1-1 but being ever so close. It was the Puerto Rican however who dug her heels in and produced a high standard of table tennis and took the match 4-1. A very promising young athlete and a thrill to have her representing Puerto Rico in the final of the 2016 US Open Championships!