DOHA, Thirty-seven-year-old Thiago Monteiro booked his place in the main draw of the ITTF World Tour Platinum Qatar Open yesterday.
In the final qualification match at the Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiyah Arena, Monteiro of Brazil beat Chinese Taipei’s Liao Cheng-Ting 12-14, 11-7, 11-4, 11-8, 20-18 to qualify for the main draw, which will be held from today.
Qatar’s Mohammad Abdulwahab, Abdulrahman Al Najjar, Aya Magdi and Maha Flamerzi will begin their campaign in the tournament on Thursday.
World No 19 Chinese Taipei’s Chuang Chih-Yuan was knocked out of the tournament by China’s Zhou Qihao in the fourth round of the preliminary round.
Qihao, ranked 100 had reached semi-finals in Sweden last November and the Chinese looked in good rhythm yesterday as he edged past Chih-Yuan 5-11, 5-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-8, 3-11, 11-9 in a thriller. Chinese Taipei’s Lin Yun-Ju, who won the Oman Open on Sunday, beat Xu Fei of China 8-11, 11-6, 13-11, 11-4, 12-10 to book his place in the main draw.
India’s men paddlers had a disappointing day with all three of the exiting the tournament.
Sathiyan Gnanasekaran lost to Chinese Taipei’s Chen Chien-An (11-5, 12-10, 11-7, 11-7), while Sharath Kamal Achanta suffered a defeat at the hands of Belgium’s Cedric Nutinck (7-11, 11-8, 7-11, 11-6, 8-11, 11-8, 11-9). Later, Amalraj Anthony lost to Frenchman Tristan Flore (11-2, 11-8, 4-11, 11-8, 11-8).
Earlier, veteran Achanta had scripted a stunning comeback to win in the third round qualification match.
His French opponent Antoine Hachard got off to a flying start in the match, establishing a surprise three-game lead but the Indian won the next four games in a row to advance in dramatic circumstances (9-11, 8-11, 9-11, 11-6, 11-6, 11-5, 11-5).
Meanwhile, Masataka Morizono of Japan caused a major upset in the fourth preliminary round. The World No 45 beat Portugal’s Marcos Freitas, 11th ranked in four straight games (11-9, 14-12, 11-9, 11-8).
Tomislav Pucar continued his rich vein of form as the 70th ranked Croat upset England’s World No 17 Liam Pitchford in a titanic seven-game contest (11-6, 8-11, 11-7, 11-8, 10-12, 11-13, 12-10).
In the women’s, Ukraine’s Margaryta Pesotska booked her place in the main draw after she beat Monaco’s Yang Xiaoxin 9-11, 7-11, 11-6, 14-12, 11-4, 8-11, 11-9. In the morning, Pesotska had to dig in before getting past Poland’s Li Qian 9-11, 14-16, 12-10, 10-12, 11-5, 11-7, 12-10.
ITTF Challenge Series Spanish Open winner, Japan’s Miyu Kato beat Nadezhda Bogdanova of Belarus to book her place in the main draw (11-8, 11-3, 11-8, 11-9). Germany’s Petrissa Solja, who had won the Europe Top 16 Cup in February, was beaten by China’s Wang Yidi (9-11, 11-6, 12-10, 11-9, 11-6).
Romania’s Elizabeta Samara, who won the women’s singles title in Qatar four years back, was knocked out.
Samara was beaten by Han Ying in the third preliminary round 9-11, 7-11, 11-7, 11-8, 10-12, 11-7, 11-7.
Meanwhile, China Liu Shiwen will defend her women’s singles title. Seeded No 3, behind compatriot Ding Ning and Japan’s Kasumi Ishikawa, Shiwen will face Matilda Ekholm of Sweden in the Round of 16.
Shiwen had beaten another Chinese Wang Manyu, the fourth seed, in the last year’s final after having started her tournament in the qualification stage.
Her battle with top seed Ding Ning is the one to look forward to as the two are likely to meet in the final. They have met in three ITTF World Tour Qatar Open women’s singles finals, with Shiwen winning 2011 and 2016, while Ding Ning prevailed in 2013.
Ding Ning is in the same quarter as Japan’s Mima Ito, the No 5 seed, the player against whom she suffered defeat in the penultimate round last November in Sweden. Manyu, a player against whom Ding Ning has experienced problems in the past, is also in the same half of the draw.
In the men’s, the reigning Olympic and World champion Ma Long will be back in action after the Chinese took a break from the international scene since a shock first round exit in mid-August in Bulgaria at the hands of England’s Liam Pitchford. He was also notably absent at the recent Marvellous 12 in Shenzhen.
Ma Long is seeded 11th in Doha. Defending men’s champion Fan Zhendong is not competing in the tournament, which will give the likes of Germany’s Timo Boll, the No 4 seed, who won in Doha in 2009, a chance to regain the lost glory.
Source: Qatar Olympic Committee