WTT Doha Day 1 Recap and Day 2 Preview
Not the post you were looking for? A guide to all of Edges and Nets’ coverage of WTT Doha (also known as WTT Middle East Hub and formerly known as ITTF Qatar Open) can be found here.
WTT Doha has wrapped up day one of action in the men’s and women’s singles event. We saw top seeds fall or come close to falling in both events.
Women’s Singles Day 1 Recap
In the women’s singles event, second seed Cheng I-Ching (WR 8) lost 3-1 to Bernadette Szocs (WR 26). Szocs just gave Kasumi Ishikawa a massive gift; since Cheng only gets four ranking points from this event, Kasumi Ishikawa will have an easier path to passing Cheng on the world rankings and taking the fourth seed at the Tokyo Olympics (after all the confusion over WTT’s draw process, the fourth seed may or may not matter greatly). However, Cheng’s current lead in the world ranking is still large enough that Ishikawa still needs to make two deep runs at WTT Doha.
Ishikawa (WR 9) herself almost suffered a first-round upset herself as she was pushed to five games by thirteenth seed Lily Zhang (WR 30). Co-patriot and top seed Mima Ito also received a first round scare, going five games to twelfth seed Britt Eerland (WR 28). Szocs, Zhang, and Eerland were three of the biggest victims of WTT’s sudden decision to only seed the top eight players, because they had to face a top-3 seed instead of a bottom 16 seed as under the previous rules. However, WTT ended up getting what it wanted in the form of three exciting round of 32 matches and one first-round major upset. Hopefully, the round of 16 remains just as exciting.
Elsewhere in the draw, Margaryta Pesotska (WR 32) upset eighth seed Adriana Diaz (WR 19), and sixth seed Feng Tianwei (WR 12) fell to Suthasini Sawettabut (WR 41). A total of three top eight seeds have thus bowed out in the first round of the women’s singles event.
Along with Cheng, the rest of Taiwan’s women’s team also bowed out early; Chen Szu-Yu (WR 25) lost to Suh Hyo-won (WR 21) 3-1, and Jeon Jihee (WR 15) took care of business against Cheng Hsien-Tzu (WR 57).
Women’s Singles Day 2 Preview
While the top seeds all faced tough competition on Day 1, the round of 16 match-ups will be slightly easier for them as they mostly face lower ranked players than in the round of 32. However, there are also plenty of interesting matches among the lower seeds.
Now that Szocs has upset Cheng I-Ching and eliminated the highest ranked player between her and the finals, she will face off against Miyuu Kahara (WR 49), who previously defeated Miu Hirano at the All Japan National championships this January.
Pesotska will continue her push to become a top 16 seed at the Tokyo Olympics (a top 16 seed earns European players auto-qualification into the Olympics) against lower ranked Shan Xiaona (WR 43).
Suh Hyowon (WR 21) will face off against co-patriot Yang Haeun (WR 81). Yang has upset 2021 Olympian and fellow Korean Choi Hyojoo in the qualification round, and she also beat Suh at the Korean Olympic Trials earlier this year. Yang will be looking to extend her good performance in Doha, while Suh gets the opportunity to redeem her abysmal performance at the Korean Olympic Trials, in which she finished near the bottom.
Men’s Singles Day 1 Recap
Liam Pitchford (WR 15) lost to Andreas Levenko (WR 144), who has now pulled off several consecutive upsets starting from the qualification draw. Pitchford suffered a minor hand injury last week that affected his performance in Day 1, but he hopes to be fully recovered by WTT Star Contender. Edges and Nets provided a full recap of the match here.
Players seeded 9-16 who had to play higher seeds did not fare as well as their female counterparts. Tomokazu Harimoto (WR 5) beat Chuang Chih-Yuan (WR 26) 3-0, Simon Gauzy (WR 20) beat Jonathan Groth (WR 30) 3-0, and Lee Sangsu (WR 22) defeated Robert Gardos (WR 24) 3-1.
Elsewhere in the draw, Lin Yun-Ju (WR 7) shared the struggles with the rest of team Taiwan (along with the women’s team and Chuang Chih-Yuan, Chen Chien-An also suffered an early exit in the qualification round) as he was pushed to five games in his first-round match against Benedikt Duda (WR 38). In a weird turn of events, Wang Yang had to default his match to Joao Geraldo due to violations of COVID restrictions.
Men’s Singles Day 2 Preview
Tomokazu Harimoto will play Lee Sangsu in a likely preview of the men’s team semi-final event at the Tokyo Olympics. Harimoto has had a difficult year so far, losing to lower ranked Japanese players both in the All Japan National Championships and the Japanese T-League. A loss to a lower ranked international rival may be an even bigger blow to his confidence.
Cho Daesong (WR 141) will face off against Levenko, and both players have to be excited that they are playing someone outside the top 100 in the round of 16. Cho is only 18, and he had a high profile win over An Jaehyun (WR 39) and pushed Jeoung Youngsik (WR 13) to seven games at the recent Korean Olympic Trials.
An Jaehyun himself also has a history of upsetting higher ranked players, and he looks to extend that history in his round of 16 match-up against Hugo Calderano.
Joao Geraldo (WR 93) gets his first match of the main draw against Quadri Aruna (WR 20). Given how all of Team Taiwan (including Lin) has struggled so far, Aruna has a great opportunity to make a run to at least the semi-finals. However, nothing is worse for a player’s performance than thinking too far ahead in the future.
Lin will also get the chance to get back into groove in his round of 16 match-up against Sharath Achanta (WR 32).
Where to watch
Matches on Table 2, 3, and 4 will be live streamed on ITTF/WTT’s Youtube Channel, although viewers in certain countries had problems watching them live on Day 1. Full match recordings are expected to be available the next day.
Table 1 will be broadcast on the official World Table Tennis website (subject to media rights restrictions). A free account registration is needed. There is live commentary, but sadly Adam Bobrow is not involved.
Since Table 1 matches are unavailable for viewing if you don’t watch it live, Edges and Nets will be live blogging and providing full recaps of certain Table 1 matches. For Day 2, we will be covering An Jaehyun vs Hugo Calderano at 13:00 Greenwich time. Check back our website for more. We were not able to do any live recaps of Day 1 due to issues viewing the live Youtube stream, but expect things to go better this time around.