World Number Ones MA Long and LIU Shiwen take titles in QatarPhoto: Courtesy ITTF
ITTF World Tour Qatar Open
World number one MA Long and LIU Shiwen from China are the winners of the men’s and women’s singles titles at the 2016 ITTF World Tour Qatar Open that concluded today in Doha.
After last week’s loss at the Kuwait Open, MA, the 2015 World Champion proved that he is still the dominant leader, pulling off an impressive victory over compatriot FAN Zhendong, winning 4-1 (11-9, 11-9, 5-11, 13-11, 11-5) in a thrilling men’s singles final.
The 27-year-old Chinese stated “We both played well, there might not be many fantastic rallies, but we are both very much into the games and fully focused.”
“It’s a very tight match, the first three games that I won were both played till the maximum, 11-9, 11-9, 13-11, so it wasn’t easy at all. I think all these are very critical games, if I had lost any of them, this match could have been like our last encounter at the World Tour Grand Finals last year in Lisbon where we played full seven games in the final,” added the champion after his victory.
The women’s singles final was a rematch of the 2015 World Championships final where world number one LIU faced off world number two DING Ning. DING took the crown in Suzhou, but it was LIU who prevailed today in Qatar to take her second ITTF Qatar Open title, beating DING 4-1 (11-8, 9-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-9) to secure her victory.
LIU shared: “I think the match itself wasn’t as exciting as we hope it to be, probably because this is the second consecutive world tour event, so we are both a little exhausted. We are in a crucial period of time where our internal competition is intense to qualify for Rio, so this win definitely helps in boosting my confidence.”
Rivals in the women’s singles event, DING and LIU joined forces in the women’s doubles to overcome Japanese duo Ai FUKUHARA and Mima ITO 3-2 (6-11, 11-9, 11-6, 4-11, 11-7) to take the women’s doubles crown.
Grand slam champion ZHANG Jike, together with FAN Zhendong, avenged their teammates XU Xin and MA Long’s loss to Koki NIWA and Maharu YOSHIMURA, crashing the Japanese pair 3-0 (11-8, 11-9, 11-7).
In the Under-21 events, Singapore’s ZENG Jian beat Japan’s Hina HAYATA 3-0, the champion at the Kuwait Open, to take home the U21 women’s singles title, while Hong Kong’s HO Kwan Kit overcame France’s Alexandre ROBINOT 3-2 to be crowned the U21 men’s singles champion.
With the conclusion of the 2016 ITTF World Tour Qatar Open, the world’s top table tennis players will be focusing on their respective continental Olympic Qualification tournaments to qualify for the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Brazil.