Doha, 4 March 2020 - The 25th edition of the Qatar Open table tennis began yesterday at the Aspire Dome with qualification matches, as the players battled it out for a place in the World Tour Platinum event.
It was Swedish prodigy Truls Moregard who grabbed the spotlight on the opening day as he stunned China's Fang Bo in the men's singles Preliminary first round match. It was all about the fiery shots, with the match going to a seventh game decider. Eventually, Moregard came out on top, winning 4-3 (11-4, 9-11, 11-9, 7-11, 10-12, 11-4, 12-10) in a 54 minutes.
“I feel amazing, it was really nice to win this match. We both won some tough game but in the end when I manage to stay calm and make some really good points I won, I'm really happy. It's one of the best win of my career so far," Moregard said.
“He is still unbelievably good even though his World Ranking has dropped. I'm just really happy. Before playing in the Japanese league, you have a lot of respect for these players but practising with these top players it helps to make lower that feeling and can play more freely," he added,
China's world junior champion Xiang Peng was among the winners yesterday. He was taken the distance against France's Can Akkuzu, before coming through 11-9, 8-11, 11-5, 7-11, 11-3, 13-15, 11-6. Other Chinese winners included Yan An and Zhou Yu who both moved a step closer towards the main draw.
Yan beat Indian's Harmeet Desai 11-6, 10-12, 13-11, 11-5, 11-9 and Yu knocked out Romania's Ovidiu Ionescu after recovering from 2-0 down, 8-11, 8-11, 11-1, 11-6, 11-5, 11-3.
Qatar suffered disappointment on home soil as Mohamed Abdulwahhab was seen off in straight games by Uzbekistan's Zokhid Kenjaev, 11-4, 11-7, 11-5, 11-6. Fahed Almughanne also lost for the host nation, going down to India's Amalraj Anthony 11-5, 11-3, 11-5, 11-7.
Kirill Gerassimenko, who won Kazakhstan's first-ever international men's singles title last month at the ITTF Challenge Spanish Open, needed the full seven games to pull through his opening round meeting.
Behind by 0-2 on the scoreboard Gerassimenko showed great courage to mount a fantastic comeback, beating Croatia's Wei Shihao 4-3 (9-11, 3-11, 11-7, 11-7, 11-9, 6-11, 11-8).
China's Xu Chenhao accounted for Austria's Stefan Fegerl across five games (11-6, 11-7, 9-11, 11-7, 11-7), while his countryman Zhou Qihao negotiated a tricky encounter against Belarusian opponent Aliaksandr Khanin 4-1 (11-9, 11-7, 10-12, 11-7, 13-11).
Elsewhere, Belgium's Martin Allegro outclassed Turkish counterpart Ibrahim Gunduz 4-0 (11-8, 11-9, 15-13, 14-12) with Spain's Alvaro Robles, Hungary's Bence Majoros and Serbia's Aleksandar Karakasevic all prevailing in their respective fixtures.
Meanwhile, Russia's Kirill Skachkov and France's Tristan Flore accounted for Iraq's Ameer Al-Nuaimi (11-7, 11-7, 11-5, 11-2) and Hong Kong China's Ng Pak Nam (11-4, 11-6, 11-7, 9-11, 11-9) respectively. Benedikt Duda was in imperious mood against India's Jeet Chandra, as he beat the Asian in straight games (11-3, 11-4, 11-5, 11-7) in under 22 minutes.
However, the session was marred by a number of withdrawals due to injury – Czech Republic's Pavel Sirucek and Italy's Leonardo Mutti both dropped out giving Belarussian Pavel Platonov and Senegal's Ibrahima Diaw default entries into the next round.