By Sports Reporter/Doha
Qatar will host some of the biggest names in table tennis at the upcoming World Table Tennis (WTT) Middle East Hub, which will take place from March 3 to 13 at the Lusail Sports Arena. The Middle East Hub marks the first official events of the WTT era. The brand-new event series is set to revolutionise the sport of table tennis, with players and fans positioned at the centre of WTT’s mission.
The Middle East Hub in Doha will feature two tiers of the new event structure. The 2021 calendar will kick off with WTT Contender series before players move onto the first WTT Star series event the following week.
Among the world-class talent set to light up Doha in the men’s events are World No.2 Xu Xin of China, Japan’s World No 6 Tomokazu Harimoto, sixth-ranked Brazilian Hugo Calderano and Lin Yun-Ju of Chinese Taipei who is ranked seventh.
Meanwhile, Sun Yingsha (China, No.2), Mima Ito (Japan, No.3), Liu Shiwen (China, No.7) and Cheng I-Ching (Chinese Taipei, No.8) will be headlining both of the women’s events.
WTT Star Contender series will see more elite players taking to the table, including Mattias Falck (Sweden, No.8), Jang Woojin (Korea Republic, No.11) and Dimitrij Ovtcharov (Germany, No.12) in the men’s draw and Kasumi Ishikawa (Japan, No.9), Miu Hirano (Japan, No.11) and Feng Tianwei (Singapore, No. 12) in the women’s draw.
The Qatar Table Tennis Association (QTTA), as hosts of the Middle East Hub, will have the opportunity to include more of the world’s leading players or local stars. These will be announced shortly, as well as the doubles fields for both events.
The WTT Contender series will feature a singles main draw of 32 players per gender and 16-pair doubles per gender and in the mixed doubles. The qualifying draw will feature 96 players per gender in the singles and 32 pairs in the mixed doubles.
The WTT Star series event will be comprised of a singles main draw of 48 players per gender and 16-pair doubles per gender and in the mixed doubles. The qualifying draw will feature 64 players per gender in the singles and 32 pairs in the mixed doubles.
With these events being the first held for the majority of players after many months, the WTT Board has increased the prize money, paid by WTT, for the Middle East Hub. A total prize money pool of $600,000 will see $200,000 allocated to WTT Contender series, while a sum of $400,000 will be on offer at WTT Star series in Doha.
Player safety is at the forefront of all WTT events and strict Covid-19 measures will be implemented at the Middle East Hub in Doha in view of the ongoing pandemic.
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