ITTF World Tour stars set for Doha finale

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The world’s best players battled through 20 World Tour events across the globe to gather enough points to qualify for the $500,000 season-ending event.

As always, all eyes will be on World & Olympic champion MA Long of China who will be the red-hot favorite to defend the title he won last year in Lisbon.

The odds for the 28-year-old were slashed even more as he was drawn in the other half of his two other teammates, world number two FAN Zhendong and number three XU Xin. This means MA will not have to face his Chinese teammates until the final.

“I am very happy to avoid my friend XU Xin in the draw. This is my last tournament of the year, so I want to finish the year of my dreams off in style, by winning the World Tour Grand Finals for the fourth time.”

Number two seed, 19-year-old FAN Zhendong, the man that MA Long beat in last year’s World Tour Grand Final, will be out for revenge for his 2015 defeat, and will want to keep up his momentum from winning the Men’s World Cup earlier in the year.

Double World Tour Grand Final champion Jun Mizutani (JPN) is making his first international appearance since winning bronze at Rio 2016, so confidence will be high for the Japanese superstar. Europe’s hopes rest with Dimitrij Ovtcharov (GER) and Vladimir Samsonov (BLR), who will be bidding for their first World Tour Grand Finals crown.

Like fellow Olympic champion MA Long, Ding Ning (CHN), is out to defend her World Tour Grand Finals title here in Doha. The 27-year-old stated after seeing her draw: “All the 16 players are qualified through many tough tournaments in 2016, so everyone here will be strong. I will prepare my best for every match, as each match will be difficult. I am here to win, and want desperately to defend my title.”

The Japanese trio of Miu Hirano, Mima ITO and Hina Hayata, fresh from their historic feat of becoming the Women’s Junior World Team Champions earlier in the week are ready to enter back into the senior stage, after all qualifying for the event here in Doha. Time will tell if they can transfer their junior form to senior success in Doha.

The Seamaster Qatar 2016 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals is the most lucrative table tennis event on the globe, with only the top 16 men and women players from the 20 2016 ITTF World Tour events securing their place in Doha. In addition to the singles competition, eight men’s and women’s doubles pairs and 8 men’s and women’s under 21 players have also be making their way to Doha to compete in the event.

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Nittaku ITTF Monthly Pongcast

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In the latest episode of ITTF Monthly Pongcast, the team delve into

– Final candidates for Qatar 2016 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals and for the 2016 ITTF World Junior Circuit Finals

– Yuya Oshima win in the Swedish Open

– Kenta Matsudaira memorable victory at the Austrian Open

– The Hungarian Junior and Cadet Open

All this and much more in November’s Pongcast.

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Yuya Oshima secures Qatar berth

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In-form: Oshima.

Oshima defeated Swede Mattias Karlsson in the final, a direct shootout for the last and final Grand Finals position, which will be held 8-11 December 2016 in Doha, Qatar.

After the defining match, the 22-year-old stated: “This is my best performance ever. I’m very glad with this result. I can’t wait to compete at the World Tour Grand Finals in a few weeks’ time.”

Oshima secured the last ticket to Doha, but it was Olympic champion and world number one MA Long (CHN) who held the top place of the 2016 World Tour standings after the 20 ITTF World Tour events this year. MA secured two World Tour titles in Germany and Qatar this year, and will be aiming to defend his World Tour Grand Finals title he won in Lisbon last year to cap off a dream year.

MA will be joined by his team mates Fan Zhendong, Xu Xin and Zhang Jike in Doha, with China securing the top four places in the World Tour Standings. Next on the list is Rio 2016 Olympic Games bronze medalist Jun Mizutani (JPN), who has won the World Tour Grand Finals on two occasions and clinched three World Tour titles in 2016.

Like fellow Olympic Champion MA Long, DING Ning (CHN) also topped the World Tour Standing on the women’s singles side winning 2016 two World Tour events. The 2015 World Tour Grand Finals champion is followed on the list by world number two Liu Shiwen (CHN) and 2014 World Tour Finals Champion Japan’s Kasumi Ishikawa.

Table tennis’s youngest ever Olympic medalist, 16-year-old Mima ITO (JPN), secured her place on the back of winning the Austrian Open one week ago, with the Japanese superstar being in danger of missing the $500,000 event prior to her victory.

The Seamaster Qatar 2016 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals is the most lucrative table tennis event on the globe, with only the top 16 men and women players from the 20 2016 ITTF World Tour events securing their place in Doha.

In addition to the singles competition, eight men’s and women’s doubles pairs and eight men’s and women’s under 21 players will also be making their way to Doha to compete in the event.

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