by Simon Daish
Following another strong showing Germany’s Han Ying, who is seeded 11th, has reached the Women’s Singles final of a Grand Finals for the first time after she picked up a straight games victory over Japan’s Miu Hirano in the top half of the semi-finals draw in Qatar.
No.10 seed Miu Hirano had managed to negotiate a tough fixture against the fifth seed Tie Yana of Hong Kong in the last eight of the competition earlier in the day, but the 2016 Women’s World Cup winner Miu Hirano was completely blown away in the semi-finals of the Grand Finals as Han Ying stormed to a 4-0 win over the Japanese player (11-2, 11-4, 11-3, 11-5).
While Han Ying will be delighted to be the first European player to reach the Women’s Singles final at a World Tour Grand Finals, she will be weary of her next challenge: the no.3 seed Zhu Yuling of China booked her spot in the final following her 4-0 triumph over the second seed Kasumi Ishikawa (16-14, 11-3, 11-8, 11-6).
The Men’s Singles competition at the 2016 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals will see a repeat of last year’s final, after China’s Ma Long and Fan Zhendong avoided defeat on day three of the event in Doha.
Top seed Ma Long overcame the 12th seeded player Jeoung Youngsik in their last four encounter; Jeoung Youngsik had pulled off a fantastic achievement in reaching the semi-finals of the Men’s Singles category, but the player from Korea Republic wasn’t able to go one round further as Ma Long progressed in his place (11-9, 11-8, 11-8, 14-12).
Fan Zhendong, who is seeded second for the event, was involved in two matches on the third day in Doha with the 19-year-old defeating Dimitrij Ovtcharov (9-11, 10-12, 15-13, 11-8, 11-8, 11-5) and then Xu Xin (11-5, 5-11, 11-5, 6-11, 11-6, 11-9) to set up a meeting with Ma Long on the final day of the competition.
There may have been disappointment for Jeoung Youngsik in the Men’s Singles tournament but it was a very different story for the Korea Republic contestant in the Men’s Doubles as he partnered up with fellow countryman Lee Sangsu to beat Alexey Liventsov and Mikhail Paikov in seven ends (8-11, 12-10, 10-12, 11-4, 11-9, 10-12, 11-7), while the Women’s Doubles competition saw the top two seeds exit with Hong Kong’s Doo Hoi Kem and Lee Ho Ching and the pairing of Yui Hamamoto and Hina Hayata of Japan moving through to the final.
The two Under 21 categories have also reached the final stage; Hina Hayata saw off Yui Hamamoto to set up a tie with Doo Hoi Kem in the Under 21 Women’s Singles final, with Liao Cheng-Ting and Yuto Muramatsu registering successful results against Can Akkuzu (11-8, 11-8, 11-6, 11-4) and Mizuki Oikawa (11-8, 8-11, 11-8, 11-6, 11-5) in their respective last four matches in the Under 21 Men’s Singles.