Silver for Tomislav PUCAR at U21 tournamentPhoto: ITTF
Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Qatar Open
After two days of qualifications at the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Qatar Open, Women’s and Men’s Singles events main draw commences tomorrow. Top seeded player is MA Long, followed by FAN Zhendong and XU Xin who is on the quest for fourth title in Doha. He won in 2011 when he beat Germany’s Timo BOLL in the final, before the following year overcoming colleague WANG Hao to collect the title. In 2014 he secured his third such title when overcoming Chinese Taipei’s CHUANG Chih-Yuan.
A possible four, if he succeeds he will surpass the current records held by Croatia’s Zoran PRIMORAC and Chinese colleague, WANG Liqin; both now retired from international play.
Timo BOLL of Germany was forced to withdrew due of injury, but Europe has very strong line up of challengers of Chinese supremacy. After three titles in the row, Germany’s Dimitrij OVTCHAROV is on duty again, seeded at position no. 6, whilst Belarus Vladimir SAMSONOV is no. 8 seed.
Leading name in the Women’s Singles is ZHU Yuling of China, followed by Kasumi ISHIKAWA of Japan and FENG Tianwei of Singapore. HAN Ying of Germany is listed at position no. 5, whilst European champion HU Melek of Turkey is at position no. 10.
In the qualification tournament in the Men’s Singles event few surprise names secured top spot in the group stage. Sweden’s Anton KÄLLBERG, Spain’s Alvaro Robles were among them. Surprising win came from Anton KÄLLBERG who beat Russia’s Alexander SHIBAEV (11-5, 11-13, 11-9, 11-3, 11-7). Presently KÄLLBERG is listed at no.87 in the global order, Shibaev is at no.35.
Japan’s Masaki YOSHIDA, Frenchman Tristan FLORE, the Czech Republic’s Tomas KONECNY and Germany’s Steffen MENGEL all finished in first positions contrary to expectations.
Slovak Republic’s Barbora BALAZOVA in the Women’s Singles qualification tournament also recorded important victory. On her way to the main draw, she faced Japan’s Honoka HASHIMOTO, a defensive player with a classic style. Presently HASHIMOTO is listed at no.25 on the Women’s World Rankings; BALAZOVA is named at no.77; against the odds Barbora emerged successful in five games (11-7, 12-10, 11-7, 12-14, 13-11).
The Czech Republic’s Hana MATELOVA having beaten Chinese Taipei’s CHENG Hsien-Tu on the first day of play, she caused Japan more pain; she overcame Yui HAMAMOTO, World ranked no.16 and the highest rated player on qualification duty. MATELOVA won in six games (7-11, 4-11, 11-7, 12-10, 11-6, 11-5).
In Men’s Under 21 Singles Event final, LAM Siu the no.12 seed, overcame Croatia’s Tomislav PUCAR, the no.8 seed, in three straight game to arrest the title (11-3, 11-5, 11-9). For PUCAR who clinched the title recently at the European U21 Championships in Sochi, it was his second runners up spot in three ITTF World Tour Under 21 Men’s Singles finals.