DOHA: China’s World and Olympic champion Ma Long will start as the 12th seed at this year’s first platinum World Tour of 2019 Qatar Open that begins at the Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiyah Arena (Al Sadd) from Tuesday.
The draw ceremony for the tournament, which was first held in the Qatari capital in 1994, was held here on Monday in the presence of International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) and Qatar Table Tennis Association officials.
Niggling left knee injury since last August saw the 30-year-old withdrew from the ITTF World Tour Opens in Czech Republic, Sweden, Austria and the 2018 World Cup.
Ma, who the Qatar Open in 2013, 2016 and 2017, has also skipped the Chinese national team’s trial for World Championships in Budapest, Hungary (April 21-28).
“The national team coaches and doctors felt that I shouldn’t take a risk. I’ve tried a lot in rehab and had some positive results,” said Ma, who entered into his first major ITTF event in six months.
Consecutive absence from international competitions meant his world ranking has slipped to 12th.
Ma also missed most of last season’s Chinese Super League matches from the eighth round.
Meanwhile, three-time winner Xu Xin lead the men’s pack which also has Timo Boll, Dimitrij Ovtcharov and many more world class players.
In the women’s section, world No.1 Ding Ning, who won in 2013, is the top seed.
After the preliminaries, the main rounds will start from March 28-31.