by Ian Marshall, Editor
It is the showpiece match on a day when the support acts are more than worthy of centre stage.
In a rather different situation, the spotlight also falls on Timo Boll’s colleague, Dimitrij Ovtcharov, the no.13 seed, also a player who just over a year ago was at the top of the world rankings.
After being plagued in 2018 by injury, he is back to form, having in the first week of February struck gold at the CCB Europe Top 16 Cup. A man in form, he faces very much a player on a high, in the second round he confronts Chinese Taipei’s 17 year old Lin Yun-Ju, the winner at the recent Seamaster 2019 ITTF Challenge Plus Oman Open; the contest is very much a test of the level at which the talented teenager has reached.
Absorbing contests, the confrontation between China’s Lin Gaoyuan, the no.2 seed and Korea Republic’s Jang Woojin, the no.10 seed, also attracts the attention, as does that involving Japan’s Tomokazu Harimoto, the no.3 seed, in opposition to Liang Jingkun, the no.15 seed and also from China. Contests too close to call, for the latter’s colleague, Xu Xin, the top seed, he starts the favourite against Japan’s Yuya Oshima.
Japan very much in evidence, it is the same in the second round of the women’s singles event. Mima Ito, the no.5 seed, meets Hong Kong’s Doo Hoi Kem, the no.11 seed and has a debt to settle. Last November after winning in Sweden, the following week in Austria she was beaten by Doo Hoi Kem.
Equally, for Miu Hirano a most exacting opponent awaits, the no.7 seed, she opposes China’s He Zhuojia; they have never met on the international stage but the style executed by He Zhuojia, long pimpled rubber on the backhand, may well upset the fast rhythm at which Miu Hirano prefers to play.
Meanwhile, for the top name in the women’s singles event, China’s Ding Ning faces Germany’s Han Ying; colleague Liu Shiwen, the defending champion and no.3 seed, opposes compatriot Gu Yuting.
Men’s Doubles & Women’s Doubles
Likewise, in the men’s doubles, the contest between Korea Republic’s Jeoung Youngsik and Lee Sangsu, the top seeds, against Lin Gaoyuan and Ma Long, the no.7 seeds, catches the eye; as in the women’s doubles does the confrontation between Hong Kong’s Doo Hoi Kem and Lee Ho Ching, the no.4 seeds, in opposition to Ding Ning and her colleague, Wang Yidi, the no.5 seeds.
Mouth-watering engagements, the mixed doubles is no different; the semi-final duel between the recent winners in Oman, Lin Yun-Ju and Chinese Taipei colleague, Cheng I-Ching, the no.6 seeds, against reigning Japanese national champions, Masataka Morizono and Mima Ito, the no.4 seeds is more than intriguing.
A fascinating day beckons in Doha.