By Our Sports Desk
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 were he defeated the African number 1 by three set to one.
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.
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-tzuand 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.