Sathiyan Gnanasekaran and Yang Xiaoxin win in Czech Republic

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by Ian Marshall

In the semifinals, Sathiyan Gnanasekaran booked Truls Moregard, the number 3, at the end of the third game the Swede had to leave the proceedings due to injury (11-4, 11-8, 11-2, inj); booked a place in the final, the Ukrainian Yevhen Pryshchepa, who was seeded at No. 4 (11-9, 11-6, 11-6, 14-12), fell to seal the title.

In the opposing half of the draw, in the penultimate round, Yevhen Pryshchepa had put an end to the hopes of Austrian Andreas Levenko, number 7 seeded number 7 (11-9, 11-4, 11-8, 11-8).

Sathiyan Gnanasekaran’s success meant he won his third men’s singles title in an open international tournament. In 2016 he prevailed on the ITTF World Tour in De Haan and placed the Belgian Cédric Nuytinck in the final, before he successfully competed in the ITTF Challenge Series Spanish Open in Almeria in 2017. On this occasion he beat the Japanese Kazuhiro Yoshimura in the title decision.

Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, the winner in the men’s singles (Photo: Jaroslav Odstrcilik)

A third for Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, a fourth for Yang Xiaoxin at a favorite destination after she was successful on the ITTF World Tour in Zagreb in 2014, and won two years later in Olomouc. Both times she defeated Japanese opponents in the final, in Zagreb she prevailed against Misako Wakamiya, in Olomouc she defeated Maki Shiomi.

Another win in Olomouc and it was another win in August; the previous week she had been successful at the WTT Contender Budapest tournament when she defeated the Russian Elizabet Abraamian in the final.

One week later; after defeating Audrey Zarif of France, the No. 9 of the Sami (11-8, 8-11, 11-7, 11-13, 11-2, 11-2), Mariia Tailakova, the No. 8 of the Seed and like Elizabet Abraamian for Russia (13-11, 11-4, 11-3, 11-9) to seal the title. In the counter-semifinals, Mariia Tailakova finally defeated the defensive skills of Sweden’s Linda Bergström, who was number 3 (11-9, 9-11, 8-11, 11-9, 11-6, 10-12, 11- 6).

At the beginning of the game session in the afternoon, the Czechs Zdena Blaskova and Katerina Tomanovska, the number 8, beat the Poles Anna Wegrzyn and Katarzyna Wegrzyn, the number 2 (6-11, 11-9, 10-12, 11- 2, 11-9) to secure gold in ladies doubles; Truls Moregard and Englishman Sam Walker had teamed up to win the men’s double title.

The top seeded, on the last hurdle they defeated the French qualifiers Lilian Bardet and Leo de Nodrest (10-12, 11-8, 11-7, 7-11, 11-7).

Success for Sam Walker and something of a milestone; no English player has ever won a men’s doubles title on the ITTF World Tour or in an ITTF Challenge Series tournament.

In fact, we have to look back to 1976 when an English couple won a men’s double title at a major international open tournament; Desmond Douglas and Denis Neale won the 1976 English Open.