The long-awaited return to the table for Chinese superstar ZHANG Jike is over today, 23 February, as the London 2012 Olympic Champion returns to action at the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Platinum Qatar Open in Doha, Qatar
The Qatar Open is the first ITTF World Tour Platinum event of 2017, which is the highest tier of the newly relaunched World Tour. The world’s best players have responded with the majority of the top 20 male and female players making the trip to Doha.
Grand slam champion ZHANG Jike has not played since injuring his ankle at one of his many public events the 29-year-old has been doing since his last event back in September 2016.
ZHANG’s fame has risen since his silver medal performance at Rio 2016, he now has over 9 million weibo fans, and even won the most popular weibo award for the most searched person in China for 2016. For this reason, everyone is very excited for the superstar’s return to action at the Qatar Open.
“I’m looking forward to competing again after such a long break from table tennis. First priority for me though is still to take good care of my injury while I try my best to compete, because I’ve not fully recovered yet,” stated ZHANG.
The Qatar Open will also be the first event of the year for world number one and Olympic champion MA Long (CHN) and three time Qatar Open champion XU Xin (CHN). Dimitrij OVTCHAROV (GER) who is the form player on the tour will be looking to make it two ITTF World Tour victories in a row after his victory at the ITTF India Open last week.
The women’s side will be headed by top seed ZHU Yuling (CHN), after Rio 2016 Olympic Champion DING Ning (CHN) pulled out through injury. Kasumi ISHIKAWA (JPN) heads in as number two seed ahead of FENG Tianwei (SGP) and CHENG I-Ching (TPE) to fight for the title.
Qualification has been taking place the last two days for the 16 positions to join the top 16 seeded players who gain direct entry to the 32-player main draw knockout with the finals happening on Sunday 26 February 2017.
The Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour, features 12 events across the world in 2017 plus a World Tour Grand Finals, which only the top 16 male and female players from the 12 World Tour events qualify for.
The events are split into two tiers, Regular and Platinum. The six ITTF World Tour Platinum events will have higher prize money and be of a higher level organisation, which will ensure the attendance of the world’s best players, resulting in more international exposure for the hosts.