By Sports Reporter/Doha
India’s Manika Batra in action.
China’s Xue Fei and Zhang Rui clinched the men’s and women’s Under-21 singles titles respectively at the ITTF World Tour Platinum Qatar Open at Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiyah Arena yesterday.
Crowned World Junior champion in Riva del Garda three months ago, Xue Fei added to his list of successes as he beat Hong Kong’s Ng Pak Nam in three straight games (11-8, 11-9, 11-7) to collect the third such title of his career.
“I feel I played well today. I was strong on the first three attacking strokes, especially after the service but most important was that I put a lot of spin on the ball; that kept him under pressure.” said Xue Fei. In 2017, he had won in Germany and in Linz; furthermore it is now three finals, three wins.
Meanwhile, Zhang Rui won the all-Chinese under-21 women’s singles final, after beating Chen Ke in four games 11-7, 11-4, 9-11, 11-7. “It’s been a long day and we are both tired, Chen Ke has played one more match than me today so perhaps she was the more tired. In the final my concentration was good and I tried not to think about the score but just play one point at a time,” said Zhang Rui.
Medallist and officials pose at the Under-21 awards ceremony.
Notably for both players it was their third time in an ITTF World Tour Under 21 Women’s Singles final, for Chen Ke her second this year. She won in Hungary in late January having succeeded last year in Germany alongside Xue Fei. Similarly for Zhang Rui it was her third final, last year she succeeded in both the Czech Republic and in Sweden.
Meanwhile, China’s Ding Ning and Liu Shiwen won their respective qualifying matches to seal their spot in the main draw of the women’s singles.
Ding Ning needed five games to beat Japan’s Miyuu Kihara (12-14, 11-8, 11-4, 11-9, 13-11), while Liu Shiwen accounted for Singapore’s Lin Ye (8-11, 11-6, 12-10, 14-12, 11-9).
India’s Manika Batra beat Canada’s Zhang Mo in a gruelling seven games contest (8-11, 11-8, 11-5, 8-11, 11-2, 13-15, 11-7) to top her group. Korea’s Choi Hyojoo, the Czech Republic’s Hana Matelova and Hong Kong’s Ng Wing Nam also won their respective games.
Choi Hyojoo overcame Japan’s Yui Hamamoto, fighting back from a three games to nil deficit to emerge victorious (12-14, 8-11, 6-11, 11-6, 11-3, 11-7, 11-4). Similarly, Ng Wing Nam accounted for Chinese Taipei’s Cheng Hsien-Tzu (11-8, 10-12, 11-9, 8-11, 7-11, 13-11, 11-5).
Hana Matelova ended the hopes of Austria’s Liu Jia in a tension packed encounter (13-11, 9-11. 8-11. 11-3, 11-8, 10-12, 13-11). Liu Jia was the women’s singles runner-up in Doha in 2014.
There was more success for India on the day as Sharath Kamal Achanta and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran sealed their place in the main draw. After having overcome Anton Kallberg, Sharath beat Germany’s Ruwen Filus 11-6, 8-11, 11-7, 11-2, 11-7) to reserve his place in the main draw.
Gnanasekaran beat Korea’s Kim Donghyun in four straight games (12-10, 11-5, 11-7, 11-9) and was elated to play in the main rounds. “I needed to win one game, I was under pressure; it would have been easier if it had been a normal match. In the second game I was ahead 9-5 and lost; then I said to myself just go for it, just focus on playing not the score. I won the third game easily, it meant he knew he was out. He just played totally carefree, I tried, I didn’t give in.” said Gnanasekaran.
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