By Joey Aguilar/Doha
In the end, China will win. It is an all-Chinese affair in the Men’s and Women’s Singles semi-finals of the ITTF 2013 World Tour Qatar Open in Doha.
Ding Ning, Li Xiaoxia, Zhu Yuling, and Liu Shiwen handily defeated their opponents in the quarterfinals, booking themselves semi-final seats in the Women’s Singles.
Minus German Timo Boll, there was never any doubt that the Chinese would face each other in the semi-finals of the Men’s Singles. Now, it’s anybody’s game between Xu Xin and Ma Long and Wang Hao and Yan An.
World no. 1 Xu Xin was the first to grab a seat for the semis after trouncing Chinese Taipe’s Chuang Chih-Yuan in straight sets of the best of seven match (11-9, 11-9, 11-4, 12-10).
With his speed, agility and cleverness, the left-hander penhold player used every opportunity to control the game, giving him more room for offence and counter top-spins. Austria’s Robert Gardos also suffered the same fate at the hands of Xu Xin, 4-0.
Ma Long punished Timo Boll’s colleague, Dimitrij Ovtcharov, after unleashing powerful forehand spin drives in the first three sets. The German managed to take the fourth set but Ma Long had his counter-attacks tied in the fifth set, winning the match at 4-1.
It was a smooth and easy win for Wang Hao against Patrick Baum of Germany, 4-0.
Olympic champion Zhang Jike failed to make it to the semis against Yan An after suffering an injury. Four Chinese players also ruled the Men’s Doubles. Ma Long and Zhang Jike beat Kim Minseok and Seo Hyundeok of Korea, 3-0, while Wang Hao and Yan An beat Gao Ning and Li Hu of Singapore, 3-1.
However, in the Women’s Doubles, Zhenqi Barthel and Xiaona Shan of Germany made it to the finals after defeating Liu Shiwen and Zhu Yuling of China, 3-0. The German duo will face Ding Ning and Li Xiaoxia in the championship today.
Bagging the first gold for the Qatar Open was Germany’s Patrick Franziska. It was a convincing win for the German after trouncing his Japanese opponent, Yuto Muramatsu in straight sets (11-6, 11-6, 11-8, 11-7) in the Under 21 Men’s Singles.
Focus was the key. If the Japanese has 100 chops, the German made sure he had 101 top-spins to overcome his opponent’s defensive wall.
It’s a 2-1 score (for now) between the two rivals after taking one piece of win in two separate competitions, one in Poland and one in Russia.
His female colleague, Petrissa Solja failed to bag the gold and settled instead for the silver after falling to a furious attacker, Yang Haeun of Korea.
Singapore’s Feng Tianwei and Korea’s Seok Hajung played one of the major matches yesterday.
The Singaporean earned the respect of the crowd after beating the Korean in the quarter-finals, (11-8, 11-8, 11-4, 11-13, 11-6).
Feng, who won two bronze medals in the recent Olympics and a silver medal in Beijing, is one of the most promising table tennis players in the world. Although having enough training, she admitted that in the fourth set, “I became nervous”. But later, she was able to overcome her fear.
Beaten by Japan’s Jun Mizutani in Kuwait recently, Yan An took center stage in Doha after overcoming Portugal’s Marcos Freitas, 4-0 and reaching the quarter-finals.
Based on his analysis, Yan An said he defeated the Portuguese because Mizutani is ranked higher and possesses better defensive skills.
Like Feng, two 12-year-old Japanese players, Mima Ito and Miu Hirano, also earned the respect of the crowd and even the officials of the ITTF after securing seats in the semi-finals of the Women’s Doubles.