by Ian Marshall, Editor
Five points to note on a day of high quality action………
Wang Chuqin at speed
Quick to seize the initiative, Wang Chuqin proved too fast for Ma Long, the no.3 seed, not the speed of his footwork, the speed in which he executed the first attack; the no.9 seed, he prevailed in seven games (13-15, 14-12, 4-11, 11-8, 3-11, 13-11, 11-6).
Success for Wang Chuqin, it was the same for his colleagues Fan Zhendong, Xu Xin and Liang Jingkun, the player Wang Chuqin faces in the quarter-finals.
Fan Zhendong, the top seed, beat compatriot Xu Chenhao (11-4, 11-5, 11-9, 11-3), Xu Xin and Liang Jingkun both ended Japanese hopes. Xu Xin, the no.2 seed, overcame Koki Niwa, the no.11 seed (15-13, 11-5, 11-3, 11-8); Liang Jingkun, the no.8 seed, prevailed against Jun Mizutani, the no.12 seed (10-12, 6-11, 10-12, 11-4, 11-6, 11-2, 11-8).
Liking for Japanese adversaries
A first round win the previous day against 16 year old Tomokazu Harimoto, the no.5 seed (9-11, 8-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-9, 11-7), Chinese Taipei’s Chuang Chih-Yuan, now 38 years old, once again displayed his liking for teenage Japanese opponents.
In the second round of the men’s singles event, he ended the hopes of 18 year old Yukiya Uda (9-11, 11-5, 9-11, 7-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-5), the runner up just under two weeks ago on the ITTF World Tour in Hungary.
Chuang Chih-Yuan emerged one of two qualifiers to book a quarter-final men’s singles place; the one other name is Jon Persson, in the second round he accounted for Swedish colleague, Mattias Falck, the no.7 seed (11-7, 11-5, 11-3, 10-12, 13-11).
English pair set two records in space of six days
On Sunday 1st March, Paul Drinkhall and Liam Pitchford set a new record at the 2020 English National Championships, they won the men’s doubles title for a seventh time; thus they surpassed the achievement of Alan Cooke and Desmond Douglas who won six times between 1990 and 1998.
In Doha, having been required to qualify, they ended the hopes of Hong Kong. They beat Lam Siu Hang and Ng Pak Nam (11-7, 11-7, 9-11, 11-5), followed by success against Ho Kwan Kit and Wong Chun Ting, the no.2 seeds (11-7, 12-10, 4-11, 9-11, 11-7) to set another record.
It is the first time ever that an English pairing has reached the final of a men’s doubles event on either the ITTF World Tour or at an ITTF Challenge Series tournament; since the ITTF World Tour started in 1996, the men’s doubles event has been held on 323 occasions, add 35 Challenge Series tournaments, after 358 events, at last for England.
Later Liam Pitchford, the no.15 seed, beat Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus (11-7, 11-7, 6-11, 13-10, 8-11, 18-16) to reach the men’s singles quarter-finals.
Unbeaten in women’s singles events on the international stage since Friday 11th October, when on the ITTF World Tour in Germany she lost to Singapore’s Feng Tianwei, Chen Meng, the top seed continued her winning ways. She beat Austria’s Sofia Polcanova, the no.12 seed (11-7, 11-6, 11-2, 11-7) and colleague Wang Yidi, the no.11 seed (11-5, 11-8, 13-15, 11-6, 11-6).
Additionally, compatriots Ding Ning and Wang Manyu, the defending champion, made their intentions clear.
Ding Ning did not surrender a single game. The no.6 seed, she beat Japan’s Miu Hirano, the no.9 seed (11-4, 12-10, 11-8, 11-7), before ousting colleague, Chen Xingtong, the no.10 seed (11-6, 11-4, 11-8, 11-1).
Meanwhile, in contests involving former world junior champions, Wang Manyu, the no.4 seed, ended to hopes of teammates. She beat Qian Tianyi (11-5, 117, 11-8, 11-8), prior to ousting Zhu Yuling, the no.5 seed (11-3, 11-3, 3-15, 9-11, 11-9, 12-10).
Japanese hopes alive
Mima Ito very much kept Japanese hopes alive. The no.3 seed, in the women’s singles event, she beat colleague Hitomi Sato, the no.14 seed (11-7, 11-4, 11-5, 10-12, 11-7), before overcoming Singapore’s Feng Tianwei, the no.7 seed (11-6, 11-7, 12-14, 5-11, 11-5, 11-7), to reserve her place in the semi-finals.
Partnering Jun Mizutani, the top seeds, there was also mixed doubles success. The pair beat Romania’s Ovidiu Ionescu and Bernadette Szocs (11-8, 12-10, 11-6), prior to overcoming Hong Kong’s Ho Kwan Kit and Lee Ho Ching, the no.4 seeds (11-7, 11-6, 11-5) to reach the final. In the title decider they meet China’s Wang Chuqin and Sun Yingsha.
A place in the final for Jun Mizutani and Mima Ito; in the women’s doubles it is the same for their teenage colleagues Miyuu Kihara and Miyu Nagasaki. The top seeds, they beat Hong Kong’s Minnie Soo wai Yam and Zhu Chengzhu (11-7, 11-7, 11-6), before ousting Singapore’s Lin Ye and Yu Mengyu (11-3, 14-12, 8-11, 12-10). In the final they face China’s Wang Manyu and Zhu Yuling, the no.2 seeds.