Ma Long, Youngsik enter semis of men’s event
Ovtcharov flying European flag at ITTF World Tour Grand Finals
World number one Ma Long of China and South Korea’s Jeoung Youngsik secured semi-final berths at the ongoing Seamaster Qatar 2016 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals in Doha on Friday.
While Long returned to his dominant form at the impressive Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiyah Hall in Doha, scripting a convincing 4-0 (11-4, 11-3, 11-6, 11-5) victory over Wong Chun Ting of Hong Kong, Youngik, on the other hand, staged a comeback 4-2 (11-13, 10-12, 11-6, 11-7, 12-10, 11-1) win against Chuang Chih-Yuan of Chinese Taipei.
The fifth seed Chih-Yuan of Chinese had prevailed 4-2 (11-8, 11-7, 10-12, 4-11, 11-4, 11-9) against Japan’s Yuya Oshima earlier in the day to set up his quarters clash against Youngik who defeated Japan’s Jun Miztuani on Thursday.
With Friday’s victory, the World and Olympic champion Long who has held the number one ranking for a total of 51 months, more than anyone else except Wang Liqin (54 months), is just two steps away from adding another title to his long repertoire of wins.
Meanwhile, the second day of the men’s event in Doha produced no major upsets as all the top-ranked players lived to their billings by advancing into the quarters at the end of the day.
For the Chinese, it was another day in the office as Xu Xin, the number three seed had a clear domination of his Chinese Taipei opponent Chen Chien-An, taking the game in four straight sets (11-8, 11-11, 11-6, 11-8) to roll into the quarters with ease.
His compatriot Fan Zhendong, the number two seed equally had a easy clearance into the quarters with another wonderful performance against Japan’s Koki Niwa, the number 15 seed with the match ending 4-1 (11-6, 11-7, 11-7, 9-11, 11-4) in favour of the 19-year-old Guangzhou-born player.
In the other match in the category, number eight seed Dimitrij Ovtcharov of Germany, Europe’s remaining representative after the exit of Belarus’ Vladimir Samsonov, ensured he successfully kept the flag of the continent afloat with his 4-1 (11-9, 11-5, 13-15, 14-12, 11-6) defeat of Hong Kong’s Tang Peng, the 14th seeded player.
Friday’s encounter was the ninth time the duo will be clashing with the 28-year-old German having a favourable 8-1 head-to-head stat against Hong Kong player.
Peng had only managed to record a victory against a teenaged Ovtcharov in 2006 at the ITTF World Tour Kuwait Open.
Ovtcharov, the eight seeded player in Doha, had also accounted for the defeat of the 35-year-old Peng at the ITTF World Tour German Open in January.
“I played against a familiar foe today and I’m very happy that I won. I think my head-to-head advantage over Peng proved decisive today and I think he wasn’t too confident playing against me. He is no doubt a worthy opponent and I am not taking anything away from him,” Ovtcharov said after the match.
“I’m okay with my pattern of play today and my focus was much better than in recent matches. Though I’m yet to hit top form but I think I am gradually getting there. Now it’s Fan Zhendong, I’ve not played against him a great deal but I practiced with him for over an hour this morning,” he added.