by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
The name is China’s Xu Xin. He won in 2011 when he beat Germany’s Timo Boll in the final, before the following year overcoming colleague Wang Hao to collect the title. In 2014 he secured his third such title when overcoming Chinese Taipei’s Chuang Chih-Yuan.
A possible four, if he succeeds he will surpass the current records held by Croatia’s Zoran Primorac and Chinese colleague, Wang Liqin; both now retired from international play.
Zoran Primorac won in consecutive years; he emerged successful in 1998 and 1999, on both occasions beating Korea’s Kim Taeksoo in the final, before in 2001, overcoming Sweden’s Jan-Ove Waldner to claim the top prize. No tournament was held in 2000.
Meanwhile, Wang Liqin won in 2005 beating Ma Lin in the final, before repeating the success in 2006; four years later he overcame Zhang Jike to reserve the top step of the podium.
Equally, there are two players who have the chance to join the three club; Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus and China’s Ma Long.
After losing to Jan-Ove Waldner in the final of the first ITTF World Tour Qatar Open in 1997; Vladimir Samsonov won in 2003 when he beat Russia’s Alexey Smirnov in the title deciding contest and later in 2015, when he accounted for Germany’s Dimitrij Ovtcharov.
Two wins for Vladimir Samsonov, it is the same for Ma Long; in 2013, he defeated Yan An in the final, one year ago he accounted for Fan Zhendong to arrest the title.
At the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Qatar Open, Ma Long is the top seed; next in line is Fan Zhendong, followed by Xu Xin and Zhang Jike.
Japan’s Jun Mizutani, Germany’s Dimitrij Ovtcharov, Hong Kong’s Wong Chung Ting and Vladimir Samsonov complete the top eight names.