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Seamaster 2017 ITTF Qatar Open- MS and WS Champions



Once again Ma Long, title retained

The top two seeds, the players listed in the highest places on the current Men’s World Rankings in action; status prevailed in the final of the Men’s Singles event at the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Qatar Open in Doha on the afternoon of Sunday 26th February.

Ma Long beat Chinese national team colleague Fan Zhendong to arrest the prestigious title (11-8, 11-8, 11-7, 5-11, 6-11, 11-4).

The cry of “jia you”, greeted both players, the Chinese fans in the hall with seemingly a slight bias in favour of Fan Zhendong but is in not human nature to support the underdog?

Ma Long captured a close first game; it was the same in the second as he made every effort to execute his renowned forehand top spin at every conceivable opportunity.

The modern day backhand return of service with forearm vertical, wrist relaxed and racket circumnavigating the ball was in evidence. Notably, also the controlled delicate touched return from the forehand was adopted extensively by Fan Zhendong. Contact before the top of the bounce, keeping the ball short, minimising the chance of the opponent attacking strongly. It was a lesson for young players, to be the very best you need the full range of skills.

Active, the first to attack, quick to seize the initiative; Ma Long established an 8-6 lead in the third game, it was a crucial advantage. He surrendered just one point, a three games to nil lead was established.

Immediately, perhaps more relaxed, Fan Zhendong secured the fourth game, playing fluently, he captured the fifth; was there to be a quite remarkable recovery?

The answer came quickly and was in the negative as Ma Long secured the first three points of the sixth game, Fan Zhendong elected for “Time Out”. Breath-taking counter top spin play any weak return of which there were few, answered with severity. Ma Long established a 6-3 advantage.

Attacking quickly over the table at 10-4 he held match point; the point was converted.

Success for Ma Long meant that he repeated the success of one year ago when in the very same stadium, the splendid Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiyah Arena, he had beaten Fan Zhendong to secure the Qatar title for the second time. Earlier in 2013, he had secured the top prize when overcoming colleague, Yan An, in the title deciding contest.

Additionally, the win for Ma Long means that he is ever closer to record of Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus who owns 26 ITTF World Tour Men’s Singles titles; in what is now 35 such finals, Ma Long has won 23 times.

A second Qatar final for Fan Zhendong, it was a third for Ma Long. Earlier in 2013, he .had secured the top prize when overcoming colleague, Yan An, in the title deciding contest.

Overall, China has secured the top step of the Men’s Singles podium at an ITTF World Tour tournament on 140 occasions; the contest between Ma Long and Fan Zhendong was the 93rd all Chinese such final.




Chen Meng adds to earlier success, second title clinched in Doha

Successful partners earlier in the afternoon on Sunday 26th February when clinching the Women’s Doubles tite, later in the day in the final of the Women’s Singles event at the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Qatar Open, it was opposite ends of the table for China’s Chen Meng and Wang Manyu.

The verdict went in favour of Chen Meng, the no.9 seed; she emerged successful in five games (12-10, 11-9, 11-2, 2-11, 11-6).

Fast exchanges were the order of the day; throughout Chen Meng looked for the chance to execute her technically very correct top spin attacking play early in the rally, countering those attacks was very much the role for Wang Manyu. However, that is the scenario in which Wang Manyu is most comfortable; counter attacking.

The opening two games were both on the proverbial knife-edge, both finished in favour of Chen Meng; her positive athletic play being rewarded.

Arguably more relaxed; the movement and balance executed a lesson in technical perfection, Chen Meng established an early lead at 4-1 in the third game.

Seemingly asserting her authority on the contest, it was somewhat contrary to expectations that Wang Manyu won the first eight points of the fourth game; Wang Manyu was stable, secure and trademark consistent, Chen Meng made errors.

A break between games, it was a highly focused Chen Meng, most deliberate when serving, who entered the arena for the fifth game. She went ahead 4-3, Wang Manyu called “Time Out”.

Initially the break worked in favour of Chen Meng, she reduced the speed of her play, relied on consistent topspin play, the ball travelling at a safe height over the net. She won the next two points. The advantage was never relinquished, at 10-6, she held match point, she needed just one chance, the game, match and title were all secured.

Notably it was for Chen Meng her seventh appearance in an ITTF World Tour Women’s Singles final; it was her sixth victory, for Wang Manyu it was her first such excursion.

Furthermore, it was the 113th all Chinese Women’s Singles final in the history of the ITTF World Tour, the 151st  time that China has commanded the top prize.