by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Players finishing in the top three places in Ahmedabad are guaranteed an invitation to the Liebherr 2017 Men’s World Cup to be held Liège, Belgium later this year in October; there may be more with world ranking being a factor prevalent in deciding the final list.
Notably Fan Zhendong was the runner up in both 2014 in Wuhan and in 2015 in Jaipur; on both occasions he was beaten in the final by colleagues, in the former by Ma Long, in the later when facing Xu Xin.
Twice the runner up; the best for other major contenders for honours is the bronze medal. In Ahmedabad next in line to Fan Zhendong in the order of merit is Japan’s Jun Mizutani. He is followed Hong Kong’s Wong Chun Ting, Koki Niwa also from Japan and Korea’s Lee Sangsu; Chinese Taipei’s Chuang Chih-Yuan completes the top six names.
Koki Niwa and Lee Sangsu have never secured a podium finish at the Asian Cup but Jun Mizutani has achieved the feat three times, Wong Chun Ting and Chuang Chih-Yuan once each.
Jun Mizutani was a bronze medallist in 2007 in Hanoi, 2014 in Wuhan and two years ago in Jaipur; meanwhile, Chuang Chih-Yuan assumed the third step of the podium in 2013 in Hong Kong, before last year in Dubai it was the end result for Wong Chun Ting.
All are capable of causing surprises but are the next two in the pecking order, the names that complete the top eight, the most likely?
China’s Lin Gaoyuan and Korea’s Jeong Sangeun complete the top eight; earlier this year at the Seamaster 2017 Asian Championships in Wuxi, Jeong Sangeun beat Ma Long; later at the Liebherr 2017 World Championships in Düsseldorf, only a coat of paint against Lin Gaoyuan saved Xu Xin from a quarter-final defeat.
They say fortunes balances out; in Ahmedabad, could lady luck smile on Lin Gaoyuan?