by Simon Daish
Zhu Yuling and Liu Shiwen are used to meeting face-to-face in the latter stages of a Women’s Singles tournament on the ITTF World Tour but, with one player being seeded and the other unseeded, in Doha the two will fight it out for a place in the Round of 16.
The three previous battles have gone in Zhu Yuling’s favour, however, it is Liu Shiwen who holds the superior head-to-head record with 12 victories out of their 19 encounters at international ranking events and she has never lost to Zhu Yuling in a singles match at the Qatar Open. This is one encounter you won’t want to miss!
Another Chinese competitor who will be involved in a tough opening round fixture is Sun Yingsha, with ninth seed Doo Hoi Kem providing the opposition for the 17-year-old star. Sun Yingsha’s record is impressive, picking up a title win and two silver medal finishes from her four appearances in ITTF World Tour Women’s Singles competitions, but could Hong Kong’s Doo Hoi Kem be set to cut her campaign short in Doha?
Yoo Eunchong was one of the standout players in the two-day qualification event which took place prior to the Seamaster 2018 Qatar Open, earning superb victories over Soo Wai Yam Minnie and Zhou Yihan. Now the Korean has been rewarded with a difficult start to the main draw, opposing third seed Feng Tianwei in the opening round.
Qatar’s hopes in the Men’s Singles competition lie solely with Li Ping, who is set to make his first appearance at this year’s edition of the event against Danish opposition.
Awaiting the host nation representative in the Round of 32 is Jonathan Groth in what promises to be a highly entertaining match of table tennis. In 2017 Li Ping managed to reach the last 16 on home soil – can he repeat that feat again one year later?
Chuang Chih-Yuan will have to be at his very best right from the get-go in Doha with China’s Fang Bo up first for the 10th seeded player from Chinese Taipei while Timo Boll’s first match since being named as World No.1 will be against Lin Yun-Ju.
Two rounds of doubles fixtures will also take place on day one of the Seamaster 2018 Qatar Open as the Men’s Doubles and Women’s Doubles tournaments officially commence.