by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
A place in the US$1,000,000 Seamaster ITTF World Tour Grand Finals to be staged in Astana, Kazakhstan from Thursday 14th to Sunday 17th December beckons but in order to qualify, Dimitrij Ovtcharov must play in at least one more ITTF World Tour tournament on this year’s calendar.
Four such tournaments remain; no doubt the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour German Open in November in Magdeburg is high on the list. Meanwhile, for Ma Long he must make two further appearances in order to meet the minimal five attendance criteria; to date he has played in Qatar, Japan and on home soil in China, notably winning on foreign travels.
Also, taking into consideration the basic criteria, no doubt Japan’s Kenta Matsudaira, beaten by Dimitrij Ovtcharov in the Panagyurishte final, will receive an invitation to Astana. He climbs from no.16 to no.7 (381 points).
Likewise, Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus can look forward to Astana; not present in Bulgaria but already having reached the minimal five appearance mark, he occupies the no.4 spot (589 points), being one place behind China’s Fan Zhendong (650 points).
Progress for Dimitrij Ovtcharov; it is the same on the Women’s Singles Standings for Japan’s Kasumi Ishikawa, the winner in Panagyurishte. She climbs from no.12 to no.4 (550 points) and having competed in now six tournaments, is without doubt Asatana bound.
Competing in the same number of ITTF World Tournaments this year, colleague Mima Ito, beaten by Kasumi Ishikawa in the Bulgarian final, climbs from no.13 to no.7 (408 points) and has eyes focused on the Grand Finals.
It is the same for China’s Cheng Meng, who continues in top spot on the Women’s Singles Standings. She is clear of the field (1,531 points) being ahead of colleagues Sun Yingsha and Wang Manyu in equal second place (800 points). Singapore’s Feng Tianwei is the next in line (525 points).
Notably Chen Meng and Feng Tianwei have competed in five tournaments this year; they will undoubtedly feature amongst the 16 invitations for Astana.
Women’s Singles success in Panagyurishte for Kasumi Ishikawa, in harness with Mima Ito, there was also Women’s Doubles gold; a first appearance this year on the ITTF World Tour as a pairing, they enter the Standings at no.9 (200 points).
A place in the Grand Finals may prove a step too far for the Japanese duo but there is still time to meet the four appearance criteria as a pairing to qualify for Astana. However, for the runners up in Bulgaria, the combination of Sweden’s Matilda Ekholm and Hungary’s Georgina Pota, they are ever closer having now made three appearances. They retain third place (419 points). China’s Chen Meng and Zhu Yuling continue to lead (450 points), being one place ahead of Korea’s Jeon Jihee and Yang Haeun (425 points).
Third place cemented, in the Men’s Doubles Standings, Japan’s Jin Ueda and Maharu Yoshimura have made second position (575 points) their very own. The winners in Bulgaria, they are one place behind colleagues Masataka Morizono and Yuya Oshima (588 points). Beaten finalists, making their first appearance of the year on the ITTF World Tour, India’s Soumyajit Ghosh and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran enter the list at no.17 (100 points).
Pertinently, Jeon Jihee and Yang Haeun, as well as Masataka Morizono and Yuya Oshima have met the basic criteria in order to qualify for the Grand Finals.
No change at the top of the Men’s Doubles or Women’s Doubles Standings; it is the same on the Under 21 Men’s Singles and Under 21 Women’s Singles Standings. Korea’s Lim Jonghoon (650 points) continues to head the former, Japan’s Saki Shibata (550 points), the latter.
Mizuki Oikawa, the Under 21 Men’s Singles winner in Panagyurishte moves from no.6 to no.3 (438 points) being one place behind colleague, Yuto Kizukuri (441 points) who somewhat surprisingly departed in round two in Bulgaria, beaten by Hungary’s Adam Szudi.
Similarly on the Under 21 Women’s Singles Standings, Mizuki Morizono, the Panagyurishte winner, makes progress. She climbs from no.24 to no.9 (244 points).