Star Studded ITTF World Tour Qatar Open Begins Action in Doha
The cream of the crop in world table tennis are in Doha for the first Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Platinum event of the year, the Qatar Open, which runs from 8-11 March 2018. After two days of high level qualification, we have the final 32 men and women, made up from 16 players who came from qualification to meet the top 15 seeds plus a host player, who will now compete in the main draw today.
The qualification was the highest ever quality, with players as high as 18 in the world having to fight for a spot in the main draw, including Olympic & World Champion DING Ning (CHN) and former world number one LIU Shiwen who had dropped in their world rankings due to inactivity in 2017.
The high level of qualification means there are some extremely tough first round matches for the top seeds. None more than the world number one ZHU Yuling having to play her teammate LIU Shiwen in the first round.
Commenting on the match that would not be out of place as the final here in Qatar, ZHU Yuling stated: "It's a tough draw, but of course I expected that I could meet my teammate in the first round, we have 14 of us competing here so the chances are pretty high. Against Liu Shiwen, I still have more defeats than victories even though I won our last encounter at the Women's World Cup last year, so I can only try to play my best."
In the men's draw all eyes will be on Timo BOLL (GER) who became the oldest ever world number one last week at 36 years of age and is turning 37 for his first-round match against Chinese Taipei's rising star LIN Yun-Ju.
Three-time Qatar Open Champion XU Xin who will be looking at making history as the most successful Men's Singles player in Qatar, faces Portugal's Tiago APOLONIA in his opening match. While world number two FAN Zhendong looks at taking his first Qatar Open title following his success at the 2018 Hungarian Open in January.
The Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Platinum Qatar Open is the first of six ITTF World Tour Platinum events in 2018, which is the top tier of the ITTF World Tour with the most prize money and world ranking points. Together with the six regular ITTF World Tour events, players compete to earn World Tour Standings points to be one of top 16 to qualify for the one-million-dollar World Tour Grand Finals in December.