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Table Tennis: Experienced Xu, teenage Hu triumph at Qatar Open

World No. 2 Xu Xin of China beat Taiwan No. 1 Chuang Chih-yuan for his third Qatar Open singles title. Photo: Fadi Al-Assaad / ITTF via Action Images.

World No. 2 Xu Xin of China beat Taiwan No. 1 Chuang Chih-yuan for his third Qatar Open singles title and ninth World Tour victory. Photos: Fadi Al-Assaad / ITTF via Action Images.

February 24, 2014: China’s World No. 2 Xu Xin and teenage compatriot Hu Limei won the men’s and women’s singles finals respectively at the US$500,000 Qatar Open, the second Super Series event on this year’s GAC Group ITTF World Tour following the previous week’s Kuwait Open.

 

Xu, 24, won his third Qatar Open and ninth World Tour title.

Xu, 24, won his third Qatar Open and ninth World Tour title.

Xu, who won the World Tour Grand Finals in Dubai last month, beat Taiwan No. 1 Chuang Chih-yuan 4-1 (13-11, 11-4, 4-11, 11-6, 11-5) at Aspire Zone on Sunday evening for his third Qatar Open victory.

 

As the tournament celebrated its 20th anniversary, Xu drew level with compatriot Wang Liqin and Zoran Primorac of Croatia as the only players to win the Qatar Open men’s singles title three times.

 

“Before this week, we had a lot of activities so I was not able to train as much and I didn’t play as well as I hoped, but after reaching the finals and winning, I feel very happy,” Xu said after his ninth World Tour victory.

 

Xu was left carrying the hopes of the world’s leading table tennis nation after he became the only Chinese to make it into the men’s quarter-finals in Doha, following losses by Kuwait Open champion Fan Zhendong and runner-up Yan An – World Nos. 5 and 6 respectively – to Cho Eon-rae of Korea and Gao Ning of Singapore.

 

Xu admitted: “There was some pressure on me, as I was the only Chinese remaining in the quarter-finals. My coach sent me a text message, commenting that this is a test for me, to handle the situation and to win the title.”

 

Hu Limei, 19, came from 2-1 down to beat Austria’s Liu Jia 4-2 in the women’s singles final.

Hu Limei, 19, came from 2-1 down to beat Austria’s Liu Jia 4-2 in the women’s singles final.

In the women’s singles, 19-year-old Hu came back from 2-1 down to win 4-2 (11-9, 9-11, 9-11, 11-8, 11-6, 14-12) against in-form Liu Jia of Austria, who had won back-to-back titles at this year’s Hungarian Open and Europe Cup.

 

Chinese teenager Hu with her first World Tour title

Hu, 19, with her first World Tour trophy.

“It’s the first time I’ve won a World Tour event, but also the first time I’ve made it into a semi-final and a final. I feel very happy and excited. Liu Jia is a very experienced player, so before the match I told myself that I just needed to try my best,” said Hu, currently World No. 27.

 

“When I was behind, I made some adjustments to my play and also tried to calm down. During the time-out in the fifth game when I was 5-6 down, my coach gave me a lot of encouragement and affirmation, and advised me to make some variations with my service.”

 

It was a week of surprises as both the men’s and women’s top seeds bowed out in the early rounds. Defending men’s champion Ma Long of China withdrew due to injury in the round of 16, while women’s top seed Feng Tianwei of Singapore surprisingly lost 4-3 to Hong Kong’s Ng Wing-nam, the World No. 54.

 

Ng, 21, teamed up with Lee Ho-ching to win the women’s doubles, the Hong Kong pair playing some inspired table tennis to defeat Chinese favourites Liu Gaoyang and Liu Xi 3-0 (11-8, 16-14, 11-6) in the final.

 

Hong Kong’s Lee Ho-ching (left) and Ng Wing-nam beat Chinese favourites Liu Gaoyang and Liu Xi in the women’s doubles final.

Hong Kong’s Lee Ho-ching (left) and Ng Wing-nam beat favourites Liu Gaoyang and Liu Xi in the women’s doubles final.

In the men’s doubles final, Korean duo Cho Eon-rae and Seo Hyun-deok also won 3-0 as they beat the French pairing of teenager Tristan Flore and Emmanuel Lebesson 11-9, 11-7, 12-10.

 

A day earlier, the 18-year-old Flore secured the men’s singles Under-21 title by defeating Indian Harmeet Desai 4-0 (11-9, 11-5, 11-8, 11-4), having not lost a game on his march to the title. Germany’s Petrissa Solja made it a clean sweep for Europe in the Under-21 events by beating Lin Ye of Singapore 4-1 (9-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-8, 11-5) in the women’s decider.

 

Source: ITTF

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