CHINA’S Olympic champion Ma Long defended the ITTF World Tour Platinum Qatar Open men’s singles title in style, beating compatriot and No.2 seed Fan Zhendong 11-8, 11-8, 11-7, 5-11, 6-11, 11-4 in a gruelling final last Sunday.
Among the women, world No.10 Chen Meng defeated Wang Manyu 12-10, 11-9, 11-6, 2-11, 11-6 in an all-China final.
“I’m very happy to retain the title. The Qatar Open is a lucky tournament for me. I started with a win here last year and ended up claiming the gold at the Rio Olympics. I hope it’s going to
be a good start and expect some great results this year,” Ma told Doha Stadium Plus.
It was Ma’s third Qatar Open title, having won in 2013 as well, and second victory in Doha against the world No.2 whom he had defeated at the ITTF World Tour Grand Finals last December.
However, Ma, the world No.1 and top seed, was stretched till the sixth game when he could have finished off after racing to a 3-0 lead, executing his renowned forehand top spin.
“I had a three-nil lead, but Fan changed his strategy in the fourth and fifth games. It was difficult to quell his smashes and top spin. I knew the sixth game will be crucial and also opted for a different strategy. It proved decisive,” added Ma, who won his maiden title in 2013.
Meanwhile, Qatar’s Li Ping, who beat South Korea’s Kim Minseok 11-9, 11-9, 11-7, 12-10, 11-5 in the pre-quarterfinal, lost to eventual winner Ma 7-11, 11-7, 4-11, 6-11, 9-11 in the last eight while Ahmed Khaleel Al Mohannadi was beaten by Spain’s Alvaro Robles 11-1, 11-1, 11-6, 11-2 in the Round of 32.
Japan’s Masataka Morizono and Yuya Oshima claimed men’s doubles title, outwitting Swede Kristian Karlsson and Mattias Karlsson 9-11, 11-5, 11-5, 11-9.
Chen added another title when she won women’s doubles with Wang, her opponent in singles. The Chinese duo overcame Japan’s Jeon Jihee and Yang Haeun 11-4, 11-6, 4-11, 11-6 in the title clash.