DOHA: Defending champion Ma Long opened his campaign with a ruthless 11-4, 11-4, 11-8, 11-2 victory over Japan’s Masataka Morizono in the ITTF World Tour Platinum Qatar Open here at the Al Attiyah Arena (Al Sadd) on Thursday evening.
Ma, who has won previously in 2013, 2016, 2017, 2019, is the most successful men’s singles player in Qatar Open history after he roared back last year from a long-term injury to win a record fourth title here.
It's always difficult to get through Ma's top spin and back-hand smashes as Morizono found it out in the Round of 32.
Nicknamed "Dragon", Ma, who will face compatriot Wang Chuqin in the pre-quarters on Friday, is in the same half of the draw as top seed Fan Zhendong and in the same quarter as Liang Jingkun, the No.8 seed.
One hopes that the 31-year-old will see off top Chinese opposition to land his fifth title.
Xu Xin is the main threat on the other side of the draw as the No.2 seed defeated Ma in the final of the ITTF World Tour Platinum German Open last month.
Wang ended Portugal’s Marcos Freitas campaign in a powerful performance that was particularly enjoyed by the fans. Wang won 11-3, 11-5, 13-11, 11-4.
England’s Liam Pitchford also progressed with 4-2 win (11-6, 11-7, 8-11, 11-9, 10-12, 11-9) over Spain’s Alvaro Robles.