Dimitrij Ovtcharov and Ito Mima land first WTT titles in Doha

Ovtcharov and Ito profited with Chinese stars missing the inaugural World Table Tennis tour event in Qatar.

By Andrew Binner
Picture by 2017 Getty Images

Dimitrij Ovtcharov won the men's singles title at the World Table Tennis Contender tournament in Doha on Saturday (6 March).

The absence of Chinese opposition, due to COVID-19 precautions, presented an opportunity for the best of the rest in the run-up to the Tokyo Olympic Games.

The 32-year-old German, ranked 12 in the world, did not need a second invitation in the first event of the new WTT which replaces the previous ITTF World Tour.

The WTT comprises best-of-five games with the exception of singles semi-finals and finals which are best-of-seven.

Fifth seed Ovtcharov came through a tough draw, beating Sweden's 2019 World Championship runner-up Mattias Falck 3-2 in the quarter-finals despite being warned for wiping sweat on the table and blowing the balls in contravention of COVID-19 protocols.

He then defeated Japan's top seed Harimoto Tomokazu 4-2 before overpowering another teenage sensation, Chinese Taipei's 19-year-old left-hander Lin Yun-Ju, 4-1 in the final.

Lin had earlier won the mixed doubles final with Cheng I-Ching, the pair beating France's Emmanuel Lebesson and Yuan Jia Nan 3-2.

The women's singles final was an all-Japanese affair, with Ito Mima securing gold thanks to a 4-2 win over Hayata Hina.

It was a successful day for Japan's women, with two-time Olympic medallist Ishikawa Kasumi and Hirano Miu teaming up to beat Chinese Taipei's Cheng Hsien-Tzu and Chen Szu-Yu 3-0 in the first final of the day.

Korean duo Daeseong Cho and Sangsu Lee then edged a thrilling men's doubles final 3-2, against Argentinia's Horacio Cifuentes and Gaston Alto.

There is little time for the victors to celebrate their success with the main draw of the WTT Star Contender event, also in Doha, starting on Monday (8 March).