by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Asuka Sakai and Lam Siu Hang very much set the tone.
The no.11 seed, Asuka Sakai accounted for Sweden’s Anton Källberg, the no.4 seed (11-8, 11-7, 11-6), before Lam Siu Hang, the no.12 seed, overcame Chinese Taipei’s Liao Cheng-Ting, the no.6 seed, a player with a particular liking for the Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiyah Arena.
Just over two months ago, in the very same arena, he won the Under 21 Men’s Singles title at the Seamaster Qatar 2017 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals; two months later he found Lam Siu Hang in irresistible form and smarting from the defeat in India.
In New Delhi, Lam Siu Hang who had led Japan’s Asuka Sakai 7-3 in the deciding fifth game in the Under 21 Men’s Singles final but then had lost eight of the next nine points. In Doha, he was in determined mood. A straight games verdict was the end result against Liao Cheng-Ting (12-10, 11-8, 11-6).
“My backhand was strong today, both on the first attack and in the rallies; playing with more spin helped and also playing short helped me to win and today. I have played Liao Cheng-Ting many times, we are old friends I think I lost the first four times but more recently I won”, Lam Siu Hang
Fine displays but arguably the best was left to last.
Occupying the no.16 seeded position in the event, Andréa Landrieu ended the hopes of Japan’s Tomokazu Harimoto, the 13 year old who some two days earlier had reached the final of the Men’s Singles event at the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour India Open.
Andréa Landrieu won in five games (10-12, 14-12, 10-12, 11-9, 11-4) the Tomokazu Harimoto camp making a decision that they lived to regret. He led by two games to one, matters were level at 9-all in the decider; he took a “Time Out”. The Frenchman won the next two points and moved from strength to strength.
“I didn’t change anything after the “Time Out”; I didn’t change the tactics. I felt I could have been two-nil up so it was a question of just keep going. My reversed forehand service short to his forehand made it difficult for him to attack. He is strong backhand to backhand but in the fifth game, he became less confident”, Andréa Landrieu
Defeat for two of the top four names; for the other two there was success.
Hong Kong’s Ho Kwan Kit, the top seed, beat Japan’s Yukiya Uda, the no.19 seed (11-4, 11-9, 12-10); Korea’s Cho Seungmin, the no.3 seed, overcame Japan’s Yuma Tsuboi, the no.13 seed (11-6, 9-11, 12-14, 11-2, 11-6).