by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Cheng Meng, Wu Yang and Zhu Yuling are all on duty as are Gu Yuting and Wang Manyu.
Gu Yuting and Wang Manyu must play in the qualification tournament, for Cheng Meng, Wu Yang and Zhu Yuling it is a direct entry to the main draw.
Wu Yang won in the Colombian city of Cartagena de Indias in 2009, before in the next three editions of the tournament Cheng Meng and Zhu Yuling shared the honours.
Zhu Yuling emerged successful in 2010 in Bratislava and then in 2012 regained the title when she prevailed in the Indian city of Hyderabad; sandwiched in between Chen Meng won in Bahrain in 2011, notably completing a clean sweep of titles.
Following the success of Zhu Yuling in Hyderabad, Gu Yuting was crowned in Rabat in 2013, to be followed immediately by Wang Manyu in both Shanghai in 2014 and in La Roche sur Yon in 2015.
Furthermore, had Ding Ning not withdrawn through injury, one more World Junior Girls’ Singles champion could have been added to the list. She won in Linz in 2005.
However, of the illustrious quintet, the only member to win the Women’s Singles title at an ITTF World Tour tournament in Qatar is Cheng Meng; she won in 2012 when beating Korea’s Seok Hajung in the final.
In fact she is the only former winner of the event on duty in this year’s tournament.
Furthermore, there is only one further player competing in Doha who has reached the Women’s Singles final; the player in question is Germany’s Han Ying. She was the runner up in 2015, beaten by Romania’s Elizabeta Samara in the final.
Notably, the success recorded by Elizabeta Samara is one of only two occasions since the Qatar Open joined the ITTF World Tour in 1997 that the tournament has not been won by a player from Asia.
The one other instance is in 2003 when Croatia’s Tamara Boros accounted for Viktoria Pavlovich of Belarus in the final.
At the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Qatar Open, Han Ying is the no.5 seed; Zhu Yuling heads the list followed by Japan’s Kasumi Ishikawa, Singapore’s Feng Tianwei and Chinese Taipei’s Cheng I-Ching.
Japan’s Mima Ito, followed by Wu Yang and Miu Hirano, also from Japan, complete the top eight names.