by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Two years ago in March 2015, Ma Long retained his no.1 status, in what is now 25 publications since that date, he has never relinquished that position; overall, since ascendancy to the highest order in January 2010, his name has been at the top of the list for no less than 55 of the 87 publications.
However, there is crumb of comfort for Fan Zhendong; he has now completed 40 editions in top spot on the Under 21 Men’s World Rankings. He first ascended to pole position in December 2013. Currently, as in February, Brazil’s Hugo Calderano and Japan’s Yuto Muramatsu are the next in line.
No change at the very top of the Men’s World Rankings, it is the same in the next position; Xu Xin, also from China remains at no.3. However, at no.4, it is welcome back, compatriot Zhang Jike, having competed in the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Qatar Open, returns to the list.
Three international titles in the month of February, the ITTF-Europe Top 16, the Lausanne Open at the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour India Open, Germany’s Dimitrij Ovtcharov retains his no.5 spot. He changes places with Japan’s Jun Mizutani who drops one position to no.6; one place lower, it is the same for Hong Kong’s Wong Chun Ting and Korea’s Jeong Youngsik. Wong Chun Ting is now at no.7, Jeoung Youngsik is in the no.8 spot.
A semi-final finish in Qatar, Chinese Taipei’s Chuang Chih-Yuan remains at no.9, with China’s Fang Bo, Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus and Germany’s Timo Boll completing the top 12 names. It is one place higher for Fang Bo who was previously named at no.11, for Vladimir Samsonov, in February at no.8 it is three places lower, for Timo Boll, it is a drop of two positions.
Both previous owners of the top spot, Vladimir Samsonov and Timo Boll have known better times; for Ukraine’s Kou Lei, Spain’s Alvaro Robles and Croatia’s Tomislav Pucar, it is the best of times.
All enjoy their highest ever status. Kou Lei moves from no.35 to no.22, his highest being no.31 earlier this year in January; for Alvaro Robles and Tomislav Pucar it is from a prior best to a new best. Alvaro Robles advances from no.102 to no.80, Tomislav Pucar from no.110 to no.73.
Notable progress, it is the same for Japan’s Koki Niwa, Yuya Oshima and Masaki Yoshida, as it is for China’s Liang Jingkun and Hong Kong’s Jiang Tianyi.
Koki Niwa moves from no.19 to no.13, Yuya Oshima from no.39 to no.25; likewise Liang Jinkun now appears at no.41 having been at no.55. Meanwhile, Masaki Yoshida is now at no.42, Jiang Tianyi at no.52. Previously in February, Masaki Yoshida was at no.72, Jiang Tianyi at no.76.
All approach their previous career bests; the highest for Koki Niwa was no.11, a position he held in May, June and August 2015, for Yuya Oshima he reached no.18 in January 2016, whilst Liang Jingkun climbed to no.30 in December 2015 and Masaki Yoshida to no.33 in August 2015. However, the best record in the group belongs to Jiang Tianyi; he stood at no.14 in December 2012 as well as in January and February 2013.
Progress, for three young Japanese players and for one more; Tomokazu Harimoto moves from no.69 to no.64; his career best being one place higher last year in July and August.
Most pertinently, he retains his no.1 spot on the Under 18 Boys’ and Under 15 Boys’ World Rankings. No change, as in February, on the former next in the order of merit is China’s Wang Chuqin followed by Yuko Kizukuri, also from Japan; on the latter Russia’s Vladimir Sidorenko and Korea’s Cho Daeseong occupy the next two places.
World Rankings: Wednesday 1st March 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