07 Mar 2020

Simply stunning, breathtaking; at the semi-final stage of the women’s singles event at the 2020 ITTF World Tour Platinum Qatar Open in Doha, on Saturday 7th March, Japan’s 19 year old Mima Ito gave a performance that left those in the Aspire Dome simply open mouthed in incredulity.

She beat China’s Ding Ning, the player who has won every major title on planet earth.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Moreover, she prevailed in four straight games, underlining the much heralded theory that if you win a close game confidence blossoms; she secured a close second game and then in the next did not surrender a single point (11-6, 14-12, 11-0, 11-5)!

The Liu Shiwen effect struck!

Just under one year ago at the Liebherr 2019 World Championships in Budapest, en route to the women’s singles title, in the fifth game of her semi-final duel against Ding Ning, Liu Shiwen had won 11-0, before in the final doing exactly the same in the same game when confronting Chen Meng.

Whenever did an Olympic champion lose two games without winning a point in the space of 11 months! The answer is simple, work it out for yourself.

Past Problems

Success for Mima Ito who was the no.3 seed as opposed the Ding Ning, the no.6 seed but even though status suggested it was an expected win; surely it was the reverse situation?

Ding Ning has in the past experienced problems against the quick-fire attacking style of Mima Ito; most memorably at the 2018 ITTF World Tour Swedish Open in Stockholm, after Liu Shiwen had suffered in the quarter-finals, Ding Ning experienced a semi-final defeat.

One round later Mima Ito, as in Doha with a head of steam, she blitzed her way to the title by overcoming Zhu Yuling.

Turned the tables

However, on the two most recent occasions, Ding Ning has prevailed, on the ITTF World Tour last year in Austria, she beat Mima Ito in the semi-finals; more pertinently just over a month ago she prevailed in their quarter-final duel in Germany. The two wins came after Ding Ning had lost to Mima Ito at the quarter-final stage of the women’s singles event on home soil in China.

Ding Ning had won three of four most recent meetings against Mima Ito (Photo: Hussein Sayed)


Notably, that was the only defeat Ding Ning suffered against Mima Ito in 2019; on the one other occasion when they met Ding Ning prevailed in four straight games (12-10, 12-10, 11-4, 11-8).

The occasion? The quarter-final stage of the women’s singles event at the ITTF World Tour Platinum Qatar Open!

One year later the tables were turned.

World Tour 2020 Qatar Open Ding Ning Mima Ito

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Day 4 - 2020 ITTF Qatar Open

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