(by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager)
Puerto Rico stands alone, Adriana Diaz stands tall
Japan, Chinese Taipei and Hong Kong; they are the main challengers to China in the Women’s Team event at the forthcoming Liebherr 2018 World Team Championships which commence in the west coast Swedish resort of Halmstad on Sunday 29th April.
However, drive some 740 miles south to the city of Metz, visit the 2018 French Junior and Cadet Open, in the Junior Girls’ Singles event it is none of the three illustrious Asian associations that presents the challenge to the might of China; it is the small Caribbean island of Puerto Rico battered last September by Hurricane Irma and the Hurricane Maria that presents the opposition.
Four players from the People’s Republic of China entered the quarter-final stage on the afternoon of Thursday 26th April, three succeeded, one fell; Hu Shiyao after accounting for Germany’s Anastasia Bondareva (11-9, 6-11, 3-11, 8-11, 13-11, 11-8, 11-9) was beaten by Puerto Rico’s Adriana Diaz (11-9, 11-5, 11-5, 11-7).
Furthermore, as always guided by father Bladimir, it was the second Chinese player in succession that Adriana Diaz had beaten on the second day of play; one round earlier she had overcome Sun Yizhen (11-5, 10-12, 9-11, 11-7, 8-11, 11-9, 11-9).
“Just Puerto Rico and China, I could never have imaged that 20 years ago.” Bladmir Diaz
Now a third Chinese adversary awaits Adriana Diaz in the semi-finals; she faces Sun Xunyao, the top seed and 2016 World Junior champion.
Sun Xunyao booked her semi-final place courtesy of success in opposition to Japan’s Yukari Sugasawa, the winner last week in Belgium (11-9, 11-4, 11-7, 11-3) and Leili Mostafavi of France (11-9, 11-8, 7-11, 11-6, 11-2).
Meanwhile in the opposite half of the draw Zhang Bingyue faces Yang Yijun in an all China encounter.
The winner earlier in the year in Oman, Zhang Binyue upset the order of merit by beating Romania’s Andreea Dragoman, the no.5 seed (11-5, 11-4, 11-9, 5-11, 11-9), followed by success in opposition to Chinese Taipei’s Chen Ting-Ting, the no.3 seed (11-7, 11.4, 11-5, 11-9).
Impressive from Zhang Binyue, it was the same from Yang Yiyun, she accounted for Japan’s Hikari Okubo (11-6, 11-7, 11-4, 11-8), before, like Sun Xunyao, causing the host nation pain; she beat Lucie Gauthier, the no.8 seed (6-11, 11-9, 11-2, 11-7, 11-7, 11-8).
The semi-finals and final of the Junior Girls’ Singles event will be played later in the day.
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