Paul Drinkhall and Hina Hayata Win 2019 Serbia Open

(Photos: ITTF)

Paul Drinkhall becomes the first Englishman to win an ITTF Challenge Series singles title following a successful campaign at the 2019 ITTF Challenge Serbia Open in Belgrade.

Seeded 12th for the competition Paul Drinkhall defied the odds to reach the final hurdle but the bigger surprise was the identity of his opponent in the gold medal match as unseeded French player Abdel-Kader Salifou progressed from the qualification rounds all the way to the final.

Making a slow start Paul Drinkhall fell two games behind in the early stages of the match, however, the 29-year-old produced the perfect response by claiming four games in a row to lift the trophy (8-11, 10-12, 12-10, 11-3, 11-2, 11-1).

“The last game was probably one of the best games I have ever played, it was a very good time to do that! I have a bit of a time to rest, to spend some time with my family; after that I will play in the Hong Kong Open.” – Paul Drinkhall

In a battle between the top two seeded players the Women’s Singles crown was awarded to Japan’s Hina Hayata.

At the final stage of the draw No.1 seed and tournament favourite Hina Hayata needed just five games to see off second seed Hong Kong’s Soo Wai Yam Minnie (11-9, 11-7, 10-12, 11-9, 11-9).

“I am very happy. The final was quite a challenge for me, she was a good rival, I am proud of my win. Everything in Belgrade at the Serbia Open was super and I hope to come here next year. My next challenge is the China Open.”  Hina Hayata

Winner in Portugal and Oman, Hina Hayata has now added a third Women’s Singles gold medal in 2019.

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