08 Mar 2020

Class acts, most impressive performances, on the concluding day of play, Sunday 8th March, China’s Fan Zhendong and Chen Meng emerged the respective men’s and women’s singles champions at the 2020 ITTF World Tour Platinum Qatar Open in Doha.

However, they were not the talk of the town; that privilege belonged to 26 year old Englishman, Liam Pitchford. He lifted the dome off the Aspire Academy.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Five points from final day….

Liam Pitchford joins the most celebrated

Amongst the very best players ever from England, Liam Pitchford strengthened that claim by beating China’s Xu Xin in the men’s singles penultimate round (3-11, 11-7, 11-9, 6-11, 15-13, 11-9), the player who currently occupies top spot on the world rankings.

Thus he added to the success in 2018 when he had beaten Ma Long, the Olympic and World Champion in the opening round on the ITTF World Tour in Bulgaria.

Does he now stand alongside the likes of Desmond Douglas? At the 1995 World Championships in Tianjin; in the men’s team event against China he beat Liu Guoliang, who was then not selected for any further matches but finished the men’s singles runner up. The rest is history.

Liam Pitchford, one week after retaining his men’s singles title at the English National Championships, he stunned in Doha (Photo: Hussein Sayed)


Rock solid

Success for Fan Zhendong, once again he proved himself safe and secure; underling the fact that currently he is surely the most consistent player on planet earth.

On the concluding day he beat players who had nothing to lose; he was rock solid in his semi-final win against Wang Chuqin (7-11, 8-11, 11-6. 14-12, 11-7, 11-9) and in the final when facing England’s Liam Pitchford (11-9, 11-7, 8-11, 11-4, 6-11, 11-7).

Quite simply when crisis loomed he responded.

Fan Zhendong determined but secure (Photo: Hussein Sayed)


Apply pressure

Having won three men’s singles titles in succession on the 2019 ITTF World Tour in Japan, Korea Republic and Australia, as well as earlier this year claiming gold in Germany. Xu Xin, having never previously lost to Liam Pitchford, was odds on favourite in the men’s singles semi-final clash.

Time and again we see Chinese players make a good start; their technique is so well honed they relax and move to new heights. They become an unstoppable juggernaut but stay close, believe, ask questions and like anyone else they feel the pressure, they become their adversary’s equal. Liam Pitchford proved the point, in a crisis they can make mistakes like anyone else.

Xu Xin not able to produce a trademark recovery (Photo: Hussein Sayed)


Complete player

Chen Meng underlined the fact that she is the complete player, she beat Mima Ito in the final in emphatic style (3-11, 11-7, 11-9, 11-7, 11-7).

Not only did she display perfection in her technical skills, mentally she was sound; she maintained her perfect record against the player who is the greatest threat to Chinese excellence

She was expected to win being the top seed, she fulfilled expectations; that’s never easy in such company.

Chen Meng, winner in Doha for the third time (Photo: Hussein Sayed)


Don’t expect too much

A semi-final defeat for Wang Chuqin at the hands of Fan Zhendong (7-11, 8-11, 11-6, 14-12, 11-7, 11-9) and in the final of the women’s singles event for Mima Ito but both underlined the fact that they are players very much in line to succeed in the greatest events the sport has to offer.

Remember, they are both only 19 years old; both fear no-one but be careful we don’t expect too much.

In Doha did not Wang Chuqin underline a greater than ever appetite, returning from a three month suspension. Surely Mima Ito endorsed the fact she enjoys being the greatest threat to China.

Once again Mima Ito emerged a major threat to Chinese excellence (Photo: Hussein Sayed)
World Tour 2020 Qatar Open Fan Zhendong xu xin Mima Ito Chen Meng Liam Pitchford Wang Chuqin

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Day 4 - 2020 ITTF Qatar Open

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