by Ian Marshall, Editor
Play commences with the women’s singles semi-finals, Ding Ning, the top seed, meets Wang Manyu, the no.4 seed, Liu Shiwen, the no.3 seed and defending champion, opposes qualifier Sung Yingsha.
Following, later in the day, the men’s singles final features Ma Long, the no.11 seed, versus Lin Gaoyuan, the no.2 seed; the women’s singles title decider concluding proceedings.
It is the opening match of the day which attracts the attention; whatever Ding Ning may or may not achieve in the future, already, she is one of the greatest female players ever to grace the sport. Furthermore, all who achieve such status when having suffered defeat they teach their nemesis a lesson on the next encounter.
Ding Ning is no exception but it is the exception that proves the rule. Wang Manyu had not been paying attention to any lessons delivered by her illustrious colleague. Last year on the Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour she beat Ding Ning in the quarter-finals on home soil in China, before repeating the feat when they met later in the year in Austria. In fact those are the only meetings in which they have been involved on the international stage.
Wang Manyu holds the very special record of never having lost to Ding Ning on the international scene!
Somewhat differently, on the Seamaster ITTF World Tour Liu Shiwen is very much in ascendancy against Sun Yingsha. She experienced defeat in 2007 in China but in 2018 prevailed in both Hong Kong and at the Grand Finals; most significantly, earlier this year in Hungary, Liu Shiwen also succeeded in Hungary.
Intriguing semi-finals and if status prevails, for the fourth time in Qatar Ding Ning and Liu Shiwen will meet, Liu Shiwen is one ahead; another source of motivation for Ding Ning.
Meanwhile, Ma Long and Lin Gaoyuan have never met on the international scene but as Lin Gaoyuan is the no.2 seed and Ma Long, the no.11 seed, surely Lin Gaoyuan is the odds on favourite?
Maybe Ma Long might just cause an upset? If so he will have made a mighty strong statement, he is back and motoring, at the forthcoming Liebherr 2019 World Championships, on the evidence so far displayed in Doha, he is the man to beat.