by Wade Townsend
There was no room for error on the final day of play at the China’s national qualification event for the 2017 World Table Tennis Championships. Four rounds remained on Saturday 12th February, providing ample opportunity for athletes at the bottom of the table to add some much needed wins to their name.
Fan Zhendong was able to make it a second consecutive day keeping a clean sheet and secured top position on the ladder.
Surprisingly Wang Chuqin, who started and ended the final day at the bottom of the table, pushed Fan Zhendong in a three games match.
Xu Xin also justified his second place seeding, not dropping a match on the final day of play and finishing one spot below Fan Zhendong.
The top finishers that guaranteed a spot in the final qualification event were Fan Zhedong, Xu Xin, Xu Chenhao, Fang Bo, Liang Jingkun, Zhou Yu, Yan An and Ling Gaoyuan. The coaches also had two wild card selections they could make and decided on Lin Gaoyuan and Zhou Qihao; the ninth and tenth finishers in the trials.
These ten athletes will join Ma Long and Zhang Jike in the final qualification event to be held in Shenzhen early next month
The group has been dubbed “The 12 Strongest Players on Earth”; although after assembling such a strong team “the Avengers” would also seem appropriate.
Meanwhile, the Women’s Team also held a qualification tournament. Wen Jia, Sheng Dandan, Feng Yalan, Li Xiaodan and Mu Zi fought it out for the two places remaining in the final selection stage.
Mu Zi and and Feng Yalan were able to survive the gruelling day. They will join Liu Shiwen, Ding Ning, Zhu Yuling and Wu Yang who had automatically guaranteed their places. Wang Manyu, Gu Yuting, Chen Meng, Li Jiayi, Chen Ke and Yuan Xuejiao will also head to the final qualification event after finishing in the top six players at the first selection stage held in January.
Which of the remaining players do you think have the best chance of taking the world title in Düsseldorf?