by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Top spot once again for Ding Ning, as the previous month it is second place for compatriot Liu Shiwen but as 2017 begins there is one significant name missing; that of Li Xiaoxia, the Chinese star having indicated her intention to retire from international play following the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Only once, in October 2015 when side-lined for several months through injury, since entering the listings at no.69 in September 2001, has the name Li Xiaoxia not appeared in the global order. However, perhaps somewhat surprisingly for a player who became both Olympic and World champion, only on eight occasions has she commanded the top spot.
Accepted, for most mortals that would be a remarkable achievement; she ascended to the pinnacle in November 2008, before in 2011 claiming top spot in February, then from April to July and in September and October.
The effect of Li Xiaoxia no longer being listed is that it is one step higher for the next in line.
Compatriot Zhu Yuling, the winner in Qatar is now at no.3, being pursued by Japan’s Kasumi Ishikawa, Singapore’s Feng Tianwei and Chinese Taipei’s Cheng I-Ching. Likewise Germany’s Han Ying and Japan’s Mima Ito, each advance one place. Han Ying is now at no.7, Mima Ito at no.8.
Also, following suit, Miu Hirano like Mima Ito from Japan, climbs two places to no.9; China’s Chen Meng retains the no.10 spot, whilst Turkey Hu Melek and Hong Kong’s Tie Yana complete the elite names. Hu Melek moves from no.13 to no.11; Tie Yana from no.16 to no.12.
It is for Chen I-Ching, Mima Ito and Hu Melek, the highest listing of their careers; for Kasumi Ishikawa, Han Ying and Miu Hirano, they match their previous best.
Aspiring young players making their mark and lower down the order there are two names doing exactly the same; both from countries with proud traditions when female table tennis excellence is the subject under discussion.
Just as one star Chinese name departs, another is waiting in the wings; Shi Xunyao, the winner of the Girls’ Singles title at the Sun International 2016 World Junior Championships, makes biggest jump of all.
She moves from no.230 to no.68; not quite so dramatic but equally impressive, Romania’s Adina Diaconu, bronze medallist in Cape Town, climbs from no.123 to no.86.
It is for both their first appearance in the top 100 on the World Rankings.
Chinese and Romanian names making their presence felt; in the age group listings the dominant country is that of Japan.
Mima Ito and Miu Hirano head both the Under 21 Women’s and Under 18 Girls’ World Rankings; in the latter colleague, Hina Hayata is in third place, in the former Hong Kong’s Doo Hoi Kem.
Meanwhile, on the Under 15 Girls’ World Rankings, again Japan is to the fore; Miyu Nagasaki and Miyuu Kihara occupy the top two respective places, Crystal Wang of the United States is in third place.
World Rankings: Tuesday 3rd January 2017
World Rankings: Basic Description
World Rankings: Rating Points and Bonus Points Tables
World Rankings: Ranking Default Policy for No Show
World Rankings: Policy for Inclusion in 2017 ITTF Calendar