by Simon Daish
Born in 1989 in Shenyang, Liaoning province, China Hu Melek left her birth country and joined Fenerbahçe Table Tennis in 2007 before eventually becoming a national citizen of Turkey.
Since making her international debut Hu Melek has represented Turkey at the Olympic Games on three occasions, and in 2015 she received a bronze medal in the Women’s Singles competition at the inaugural European Games in Baku, Azerbaijan.
Arguably the standout year in Hu Melek’s career to date was 2016 when she defied the odds to become the European Women’s Singles champion in Budapest, Hungary and ended up finishing the year with a world ranking of 13th position.
However, the highest ranked Turkish player in the sport doesn’t enter the upcoming World Championships with form on her side having endured a difficult start to 2017 so far.
Seeded first for the 2017 ITTF Europe Top 16 Cup hosted in February Hu Melek made a surprising early exit at the group stages of the tournament in Antibes, France and later in the same month the Turkish player suffered a Round of 32 defeat to Japan’s Misaki Morizono in the Women’s Singles draw at the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Qatar Open.
Hu Melek is no stranger to the World Championships scene, having made appearances at the event since 2009.
Paris 2013 was Hu Melek’s personal best showing in the Women’s Singles category where she reached the quarter-finals, but two years later at the World Championships in Suzhou the Turkish competitor was left somewhat disappointed with a Round of 64 exit to Margaryta Pesotska of Ukraine
Performing at the top of her game Hu Melek has shown that she can take on the world’s finest players, and as the current Women’s Singles champion of Europe the 28-year-old has experience of delivering standout results on the big stage.
The question is can the Turkish representative replicate the form which saw her move to the forefront of European table tennis when she heads to Düsseldorf at the end of the month, or will her difficult start to the year continue?