Doha: Big time table tennis returns when the ITTF World Tour Platinum Qatar Open begins at the Ali bin Hamad Al Attiyah Arena here on Thursday.
The tournament is the first of six ITTF World Tour Platinum events, which is the top tier of the ITTF World Tour with the most prize money and world ranking points.
Together with the six events, players compete to earn World Tour Standings points to be one of top 16 to qualify for the one-million-dollar World Tour Grand Finals in December.
The qualification rounds already started here two days ago, with 16 players advancing into the main round, but the top stars will begin their campaign in the main draw today.
With players as high as 18 in the world had to fight for a spot in the main draw including China’s Olympic and world champion Ding Ning and former world number one Liu Shiwen who had dropped in their world rankings due to inactivity in 2017.
In the men’s competition, all eyes will be on Germany’s Timo Boll, who at 36, became the oldest ever world No.1 last week.
He will face Chinese Taipei’s rising star Lin Yun-Ju in the first-round.
Three-time Qatar Open winner Xu Xin, who will be looking for his fourth title here, meet Portugal’s Tiago Apolonia.
There will also be some tough first round matches for the top seeds in the women’s category.
None more than the world No.1 Zhu Yuling having to play her compatriot Liu Shiwen in the first round.
“It’s a tough draw. Against Liu, I have more defeats than victories even though I won our last encounter at the Women’s World Cup last year. I will try to play my best,” said Zhu.