by Simon Daish
Following successful campaigns in the Men’s Singles qualifying group stage Ruwen Filus, Ricardo Walther and Steffen Mengel all moved through to the Preliminary Round of 32 and victories in their respective encounters proved enough to seal their places in the main event.
Positioned at no.27 in the ITTF World Rankings table for February 2017, Japan’s Maharu Yoshimura entered into his match against Ruwen Filus, who is ranked 40th in the world, as the slight favourite to move into the next round.
However, Filus put in a terrific showing at the Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiyah Arena in Doha as the 29-year-old edged out Yoshimura across seven games (11-5, 10-12, 12-10, 6-11, 11-8, 7-11, 11-9) to progress beyond the qualifying stages of the competition.
The other German contestant to qualify for the main draw via a seventh game triumph was Steffen Mengel who held off the challenge of Chinese Taipei’s Liao Cheng-Ting (11-6, 9-11, 5-11, 11-7, 11-8, 10-12, 11-5), while Ricardo Walther stunned the world no.29 Chen Chien-An in straight games (11-7, 14-12, 11-8, 11-5).
Iran’s Noshad Alamiyan pulled off an impressive result in the Preliminary Round of 32 as the world no.81 defeated his opponent ranked 40 positions higher Jakub Dyjas of Poland (11-4, 2-11, 11-9, 10-12, 11-4, 8-11, 11-6) and subsequently sets up a tie with Croatia’s Tomislav Pucar in the Men’s Singles Round of 32.
There were early eliminations for for a number of notable names in the Women’s Singles qualifying group stage, as the full lineup for the main event was confirmed.
Sakura Mori, who won the two trophies at the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour India Open, will not be competing in the main draw for the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Qatar Open after the Japanese representative lost out to Hong Kong’s Ng Wing Nam (3-11, 7-11, 11-9, 12-10, 5-11, 11-6, 11-4) to finish second in Group 14.
Alongside the disappointment for Sakura Mori there were two more unexpected exits from Japanese competitors, with Yui Hamamoto and Honoka Hashimoto both failing to progress from their groups.
Yui Hamamoto’s fate was sealed when she suffered a six games defeat to the Czech Republic’s Hana Matelova despite having made a positive start to the tie (7-11, 4-11, 11-7, 12-10, 11-6, 11-5), and Honoka Hashimoto was condemned to third position in her group following her loss to Barbora Balazova of the Slovak Republic (11-7, 12-10, 11-7, 12-14, 13-11).
“I like playing against defenders, some more than others; today I tried to keep changing the tempo of the match. I tried to make her feel uncomfortable, sometimes push the ball hard with backspin rather than always keep attacking; also I focused my top spin play towards the middle”, Barbora Balazova.
China’s Gu Yuting backed up her opening group stage win over Miyu Maeda with a solid performance against Korea Republic’s Choi Hyojoo (11-9, 11-9, 6-11, 11-9, 11-9) to secure top spot in Group 13, while Wang Manyu who also represents China came out on top against Chen Szu-Yu of Chinese Taipei (3-11, 11-8, 10-12, 11-9, 11-4, 11-8) in Group 15.
One of the top 16 seeded players for the Women’s Singles category is Doo Hoi Kem, and the Hong Kong contestant will head into the competition in a confident mood after she emerged victorious over fellow compatriot Minnie Soo Wai Yam (11-7, 8-11, 11-5, 11-4) in the Under 21 Women’s Singles final.
Lam Siu Hang left the Seamaster 2017 India Open with regrets after he missed out on his chance to capture the Under 21 Men’s Singles crown in New Delhi, but fast forward a week and the Hong Kong player has moved one step higher on the medals podium as he saw off rising star Tomislav Pucar to claim the Under 21 Men’s Singles title at the Seamaster 2017 Qatar Open.
“I remembered being the runner up, I did not want to lose in the final once again. I was very focused, I tried not to think about winning or losing, just thinking about how to win each point…”, Lam Siu Hang.