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Fan Zhendong and Chen Meng supreme in Qatar

Sunday 08 March

2020 ITTF World Tour Platinum Qatar Open

Sunday 8th March

 

Fan Zhendong and Chen Meng supreme in Qatar

 

China’s Fan Zhendong and Chen Meng won the respective men’s singles and women’s singles titles at the 2020 ITTF World Tour Platinum Qatar Open in Doha on Sunday 8th March.

The wins followed success for colleagues the previous day. Ma Long and Xu Xin had combined to win the men’s doubles event, Wang Manyu and Zhu Yuling had emerged the women’s doubles champions but there was no clean sweep; Japan’s Jun Mizutani and Mima Ito had secured mixed doubles gold.

In the penultimate round Fan Zhendong beat colleague Wang Chuqin, the no.9 seed (7-11, 8-11, 11-6, 14-12, 11-7, 11-9) to reserve his place in the final. Notably, in the second round Wang Chuqin had beaten teammate Ma Long, the no.3 seed (13-15, 14-12, 4-11, 11-8, 3-11, 13-11, 11-6).

A place in the title deciding contest booked, Fan Zhendong faced surprise finalist, England’s Liam Pitchford, the no.15 seed, a player in the form of his life.

In the second round he had accounted for Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus (11-7, 11-7, 6-11, 12-10, 8-11, 18-16), the opening round winner against China’s Lin Gaoyuan, the no.4 seed (5-11, 11-8, 11-7, 9-11, 11-5, 6-11, 11-7). One round later he overcame Chinese Taipei’s Chuang Chih-Yuan (14-12, 11-8, 11-5, 11-7), like Vladimir Samsonov another play in form. In the first round he had beaten Japan’s Tomokazu Harimoto, the no.5 seed (9-11, 8-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-9, 11-7).

Fine wins but overshadowed by the semi-final against China’s Xu Xin, the no.2 seed (3-11, 11-7, 11-9, 6-11, 15-13, 11-9); a place but it was not to be the desired outcome. Fan Zhendong proved safe and secure, he won in six games (11-9, 11-7, 8-11, 11-4, 6-11, 11-7) to regain the title won in 2018 and thus secured the top prize for the 14th time in his career on the ITTF World Tour.

Defeat for Liam Pitchford but a most successful venture; the previous day partnering colleague Paul Drinkhall, against all the odds, required to qualify, the duo finished men’s doubles runners up.

They were beaten by Ma Long and Xu Xin (11-8, 8-11, 11-1, 11-6) who thus secured their 14th ITTF World Tour men’s doubles title as pair; their first being in 2009 also in Doha.

Imposing from Fan Zhendong, it was equally impressive from Chen Meng, likewise the top seed. In the later rounds, she beat colleague Wang Yidi, the no.11 seed (11-5, 11-8, 13-15, 11-6, 11-6), prior to ousting a further compatriot in the guise of Wang Manyu, the no.4 seed and defending champion (11-3, 11-3, 13-15, 9-11, 11-9, 12-10).

 

Mentally strong, focused; Chen Meng overcame Japan’s Mima Ito, the no.3 seed, in the final (3-11, 11-7, 11-9, 11-7, 11-7), a player in form. At the semi-final stage Mima Ito had overwhelmed Ding Ning, the no.6 seed (11-6, 14-12, 11-0, 11-5).

The win meant that Chen Meng regained the title won in both 2012 and 2017 as well as securing her 15th such success.

Disappointment for Mima Ito but success the previous day, she had partnered colleague Jun Mizutani to mixed doubles gold.  The top seeds, they beat China’s Wang Chuqin and Sun Yingsha, the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games mixed team gold medallists (11-8, 7-11, 11-4, 15-13).

It was their eighth ITTF World Tour mixed doubles final since joining forces in early July last year in the Korea Republic but it only their second title.

A second success, in the women’s doubles it was the same for Wang Manyu and Zhu Yuling, a fourth appearance in an ITTF World Tour women’s doubles final as a pair, the no.2 seeds, in the final they beat Japanese teenagers Miyuu Kihara and Miyu Nagasaki, the top seeds (11-4, 7-11, 11-8, 11-9).

Previously in 2018 Wang Manyu and Zhu Yuling had been runners up in the Korea Republic and in 2019 in China, before later winning in the German city of Bremen.

Meanwhile for Miyuu Kihara and Miyu Nagasaki the impressive run came to an end; last November they had won in Austria prior to succeeding at the Grand Finals. It was their first defeat as a doubles pair since early October in Sweden.

 

Editor: Ian Marshall

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