Taiwan’s Lin, Cheng advance at World Table Tennis Doha event

Taipei-Taiwan's top table tennis players on Friday reached the semifinals in the men's singles and mixed doubles at the World Table Tennis (WTT) Contender held in Doha, Qatar.

World No. 4 mixed doubles pairing Lin Yun-ju (???) and Cheng I-ching (???) played the first match of the day, in the first of a series of tournaments to be hosted by Doha, including Olympic qualifiers for singles players to be held later this month.

The duo defeated Dina Meshref and Omar Assar of Egypt 11-7, 11-5, 11-6 in the quarterfinals, and will meet Bernadette Szocs and Ovidiu Ionescu of Romania in the semifinals. \

(Update: Lin and Cheng will compete in the mixed doubles finals after winning the semifinal match, the pair's second match on Friday, 11-7, 11-3, 11-5.)

Following the victory in the mixed doubles match, Lin, world No. 7 in men's singles, competed in another quarterfinal match, this time against world No. 21 Nigerian Quadri Aruna.

It was a much tighter match for the 19-year-old Lin, but he managed to clinch his second win of the day 11-8, 11-9, 15-17, 11-9. (Update: Lin played in the semifinals later on Friday against Simon Gauzy and won 11-7, 8-11, 11-3, 11-8, 11-9 in WTT's new best-of-seven format only for semifinals and finals of singles events)

Other than Lin, Taiwanese entered in the tournament's singles draws were eliminated in the round of 32 or before.

Later Friday, the world No. 6 women's doubles team Cheng Hsien-tzu (???) and Chen Szu-yu (???) of Taiwan upset the world No. 3 team of Jeon Ji-hee and Yang Ha-eun of South Korea in a women's doubles semifinals nailbiter 5-11, 11-4, 8-11, 11-7, 11-9.

In the men's doubles, the world No. 8 Taiwanese duo of Chen Chien-an (???) and Chuang Chih-yuan (???) is set to take on the world No. 38 South Korean team of Lee Sang-su and Cho Daeseong in their semifinal match. (Update: The Taiwanese team lost 11-9, 11-6, 9-11, 11-7)

After the current contender tournament, which carries a total purse of US$200,000, concludes on Saturday, the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) will continue with the main draw of the Star Contender tournament on Monday with total prize money of US$400,000.

Citing concerns over the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, table tennis powerhouse China announced in late February its withdrawal from the "WTT Middle East Hub" series of events organized by the ITTF in Doha.

In early 2020, Taiwan secured spots in the Tokyo Games in both the men's and women's team events, and two spots each in the men's and women's singles, while Lin and Cheng earned their spot in mixed doubles.

Chuang has qualified for the postponed Tokyo Games in the team event and would be competing in his fifth Summer Games if they are held. That would set the record for most Olympic Games in which a Taiwanese athlete has participated.

Chuang has won several tournaments on the international circuit, including the men's singles title at the ITTF World Tour Grand Finals in 2002 and Taiwan's first men's doubles title at the World Table Tennis Championships in Paris in 2018 with Chen, but he has never won an Olympic medal.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel