by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
At the recent 2018 ITTF-Team World Cup in London, the masseur was called to duty during the group stage of play; Dimitrij Ovtcharov competed in the initial phase, remaining unbeaten.
In the three-nil win against Australia he beat Hemming Hu (11-7, 11-6, 8-11, 11-4), before in the three-two defeat at the hands of Korea, he emerged his country’s only winner. He accounted for both Lee Sangsu (11-8, 14-12, 11-8) and Jeoung Youngsik (11-9, 13-11, 9-11, 11-9).
The withdrawal of Dimitrij Ovtcharov means that the Chinese presence is even stronger. China’s Fan Zhendong heads the order of merit, colleagues, Lin Gaoyuan and Xu Xin are now the respective third and fourth listed players. Dimitrij Ovtcharov’s colleague, Timo Boll, currently listed in top spot on the Men’s World Rankings is the second rated name. The seeding for the Seamaster 2018 Qatar Open, the first Platinum event of the year, is based on the World Rankings for February.
Notably it is an ITTF World Tour tournament that Dimitrij Ovtcharov has never won; his nearest was in 2015 when beaten in the final by Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus.
It is the same scenario for Fan Zhendong; in the two most recent editions of the tournament, he was beaten in the final by compatriot Ma Long. Notably Ma Long, the reigning Olympic and World champion, is not named on this year’s entry list.
The draw for seeded players is scheduled to take place at 3.00pm on Monday 5th March in the Al Bin Al-Attayah Arena, the venue which host the whole six days of play.