(by Steve Hopkins/Photo by ITTF)
The 2020 ITTF World Tour Platinum Qatar Open concluded on Sunday in Doha in an event wrought with upsets. Two of the top seeds didn’t make it to the Quarterfinals, and World No. 1 Xu Xin fell in the Semifinal. Ultimately, the tournament title went to Fan Zhendong – a very common result from one of the world’s best. The biggest story of the tournament, however, was England’s Liam Pitchford (World No. 22) who ran off four wins in a row on his way to the Final.
As a Platinum Event, many of the World’s best are present – a roster that included eight of the Top 10. The event began earlier this week with Preliminary Rounds. Those that qualified, faced the top 16 seeded players in the Knock-Out Rounds. Fan Zhendong and Xu Xin were the top two seeds – and both made it to the Semifinals. The big upsets in the early rounds were Ma Long (World No. 3) and Lin Gaoyuan (World No. 4). Neither lasted two rounds. Ma Long was upset by Wang Chuqin 4-3 and Gaoyuan was defeated by Vladimir Samsonov 4-3.
England’s Liam Pitchford became the beneficiary of the Gaoyuan upset. Pitchford defeated Samsonov 4-2, then overcame Chuang Chih-Yuan 4-0 to reach the Semifinal. In the Semis, Pitchford won three tight games on his way to a 4-2 victory. Fan Zhendong started fast in the Final and never looked back – taking the title with a 4-2 win. However, it was Pitchford’s run to the Final that is the biggest story of the event.