by Ian Marshall, Editor
Five points to note………
Younger generation taught a lesson
Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus, 43 years old and prior to proceedings in Doha without a win to his name this year on the international scene, caused the biggest upset in the opening round of the men’s singles event. Required to qualify he beat China’s Lin Gaoyuan (5-11, 11-8, 11-7, 9-11, 11-5, 6-11, 11-7).
Success against the odds for one player of experienced years, it was the same for another. Chinese Taipei’s Chuang Chih-Yuan, 38 years old, repeated his success of earlier this year on the ITTF World Tour in Germany. In Magdeburg he beat Japan’s 16 year old Tomokazu Harimoto in the opening round; in Doha he did just the same, he recovered from a two games to nil deficit to secure a six games success against the no.5 seed (9-11, 8-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-9, 11-7).
Arguably the win was an even greater upset than in Germany, less than two weeks earlier, Tomokazu Harimoto had won the men’s singles title at the ITTF World Tour Hungarian Open.
Scare for Fan Zhendong but big three progress
Fan Zhendong, the top seed, experienced an opening round scare, he had to recover from a two games to one and three games to two deficit to beat Sweden’s 22 year old Anton Källberg (7-11, 11-6, 11-13, 11-5, 7-11, 11-8, 11-3).
Conversely for his colleagues there were no such travails. Xu Xin, the top seed, opened his account with victory against Croatia’s Frane Kojic (11-5, 11-7, 11-7, 7-11, 11-6); Ma Long, the no.3 seed and defending champion, overpowered Japan’s Masataka Morizono (11-4, 11-4, 11-8, 11-2).
However, the Chinese player to catch the eye in the open round was Xu Chenhao; he beat Germany’s Patrick Franziska, the no.10 seed (11-6, 11-6, 11-5, 11-2). It is the third consecutive occasion when Patrick Franziska has experienced a surprise ITTF World Tour first round exit; he departed at the opening hurdle in both Germany and Hungary.
Qian Tianyi makes statement
Crowned world junior champion in 2018, semi-finalist last year on the ITTF World Tour in Austria, China’s 20 year old Qian Tianyi once again made her presence known. She caused the biggest upset in the opening round of the women’s singles event. Required to qualify, she accounted for Hong Kong’s Doo Hoi Kem, the no.13 seed (11-8, 11-7, 12-10, 12-10).
Likewise, there was success for her colleagues in whose shoes she looks to tread. Chen Meng, the top seed, beat Japan’s Honoka Hashimoto (13-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-4), Sun Yingsha, the no.2 seed, accounted for Miyuu Kihara, also from Japan (13-11, 11-2, 11-8, 11-7).
Not to be outdone, Wang Manyu, the no.4 seed and defending champion, overcame colleague, Sun Mingyang (11-8, 12-10, 11-4, 11-5), Zhu Yuling, the no.5 seed, ousted Singapore’s Zeng Jian (11-7, 11-9, 11-8, 11-5); Ding Ning, the no.6 seed, ended the hopes of Monaco’s Yang Xiaoxin (11-8, 11-8, 12-10, 11-6).
Yukiya Uda and Mima Ito fly flag for Japan
Crowned Japanese national champion earlier in the year, 17 year old Yukiya Uda caused a major first round men’s singles upset. He beat Hong Kong’s Wong Chun Ting, the no.13 seed (10-12, 14-12, 11-9, 11-9, 11-8).
In addition, partnering Shunsuke Togami, the no.6 seeds in the men’s doubles event, the pair made the best possible start; in the opening round they beat Frenchmen Can Akkuzu and Alexandre Cassin (11-9, 11-9, 9-11, 11-1).
Meanwhile, in the women’s singles, Mima Ito extracted revenge. She overcame China’s Gu Yuting (9-11, 11-5, 11-7, 12-10, 11-4), the player against whom she had experienced defeat last June in the opening round on home soil at the ITTF World Tour Lion Japan Open.
Similar to Yukiya Uda there was further success. Partnering Jun Mizutani, the top seeds, in the mixed doubles, they beat Serbia’s Marko Jevtovic and Sabina Surjan (11-5, 11-5, 11-7), prior to ousting Romania’s Ovidiu Ionescu and Bernadette Szocs (11-8, 12-10, 11-6) to reach the semi-finals.
There was a successful return to international action for China’s Wang Chuqin. Returning to duty after a three months absence. In the opening round of the men’s singles event, the no.9 seed, he accounted for Portugal’s Marcos Freitas (11-3, 11-5, 13-11, 11-4).
Also he enjoyed success in both the men’s doubles and mixed doubles events. Partnering Fan Zhendong, the no 3 seeds, in the men’s doubles opening round, the duo beat the combination of Serbia’s Aleksandar Karakasevic and Slovakia’s Lubomir Pistej (11-6, 11-3, 11-1).
Meanwhile, in the mixed doubles, not seeded and in harness with Sun Yingsha, the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games mixed team champions accounted for Hong Kong’s Wong Chun Ting and Doo Hoi Kem, the no.2 seeds (11-9, 14-12, 11-7). Later they booked their semi-final place courtesy of success against Hungary’s Adam Szudi and Szandra Pergel (11-5, 11-5, 11-5).