Sports Change of opponent for Saudi fighter Al-Qahtani after PFL MENA weigh-ins

JEDDAH: China’s Wang Chuqin and Sun Yingsha won the Mixed Doubles title at the Saudi Smash table tennis event at King Abdullah Sports City on Thursday.

The duo and pre-tournament favorites from produced a clinical performance from start to finish, defeating No. 6 seeds Wong Chun Ting and Doo Hoi Kem from Hong Kong, without dropping a game in the best-of-5 final.

After winning the final 3-0 (11-6,11-6,11-6) and sealing a maiden Saudi Smash Mixed Doubles championship, the men’s world number 1 Wang Chuqin said: “We’re delighted to win and we’re thankful to our fans who have travelled all the way to Saudi Arabia to support us – they’re one of the biggest reasons we have performed better and better as the competition progressed.”

He continued: “The support and atmosphere here in Jeddah have been brilliant. Although the score was 3-0 today, our opponents are one of the strongest pairs in the world. I believe we came out better in the rallies today and this was decisive.”

Saudi Smash Day 6 also featured the Men’s and Women’s Doubles semi-finals with four matches across both competitions.

Wang Chuqin remains on track for a hat-trick of Saudi Smash titles as he and fellow Chinese sensation Ma Long beat Sweden’s Anton Kallberg and Kristian Karlsson 3-0 to make Friday’s final.

They face Japanese duo Hiroto Shinozuka and Shunsuke Togami after their 3-0 victory against the Lebrun brothers from France, Alexis and Felix.

“It’s not often I play doubles throughout the season and my goal is to win the championship with Wang,” Ma said. “I’ve already lost in the singles, so I’m putting all my efforts into our doubles campaign. I think Shinozuka and Togami are potential opponents for us in the Olympics and they’re playing well, we need to put all our efforts into the match.”

Togami also gave his thoughts on what it will take to overcome the pre-tournament favorites: “I believe we’ll have a great match if we take the initiative and attack. Against the French pair, we took a more aggressive approach and it paid off. We need to do the same in the final and play with the same mentality.”

An all-Asian showdown also awaits in Friday’s Women’s Doubles final. Chinese top seeds Chen Meng and Wang Manyu came from behind to beat the European pairing of Tatiana Kukulkova and Natalia Bajor 3-1 in the first semi-final.

The other side of the draw saw South Korean second seeds Jeon Jihee and Shin Yubin seal a 3-0 win against Yangzi Liu and NG Wing Lam.

Chen was full of praise for the travelling Chinese fans and hopes they enjoy tomorrow’s final.

“I didn’t expect so many of our supporters to make the journey here,” she said. “They created a great atmosphere in the arena today and we hope they enjoy the final and cheer us on again. We need to prepare well ahead of tomorrow and Wang and I will be discussing the tactics needed to win this event.”

Shin Yubin added: “We kept up the pace today and this was key to us putting in the best performance possible. They came out and attacked, so we had to find our own rhythm and we did that. Now it’s full speed ahead to the final. We’ve met Chen and Wang before.

“They are really skilled players but our preparation will not change because of this. We will prepare as usual and hopefully play well. Win or lose, playing against the top Chinese players always helps us learn and improve.”

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