by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Staged in Magdeburg, play commences on Friday 10th November being preceded by the qualification tournament which begins on Tuesday 7th November.
The quest to prove himself but Zhang Jike is not alone amongst male members of the Chinese team present in Magdeburg.
Fan Zhendong and Xu Xin are both on duty; confronting Ma Long in the Men’s Singles final at the Liebherr 2017 World Championships, despite defeat, the performance afforded by Fan Zhendong was remarkable. Can he find that form again?
Also on duty is Xu Xin who this year has not really shone; notably at the Seamaster 2017 Asian Championships he was beaten by Japan’s Koki Niwa. However, I would suggest that is no great disaster; to question Fan Zhendong and Xu Xin is being hyper-critical; their performances this year have been well ahead of most mortals. At the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Platinum German Open, it is for Fan Zhendong and Xu Xin to really display their remarkable skills.
However, for other members of the Chinese outfit in Magdeburg there are most definitely points to prove.
Lin Gaoyuan, Yan An and Zhou Yu appear on the entry list as do the names of Yu Ziyang and Zhou Kai.
Commanding leads in the seventh game against Xu Xin at the Liebherr 2017 World Championships and more recently at the Liebherr 2017 Men’s World Cup when facing Timo Boll but defeat; can Lin Gaoyuan cross the finishing line when the pressure mounts? Can he repeat the form of earlier this year when he beat Fan Zhendong in the final of the ITTF Asian Cup or when he overcame Yan An in the title deciding contest at the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Hybiome Austria Open?
Equally can Yan An, exciting fast to attack prove that he now has a high level of consistency; defeat in Linz against Lin Gaoyang but at the start of the year he won in Hungary.
Meanwhile, Zhou Yu has proved himself a doubles player of note; at the Qoros 2015 World Championships in Suzhou, partnering Fan Zhendong, he was the silver medallist. In Men’s Singles events on the ITTF World Tour he has come close but not close enough. However, in his defence it should be noted that in three Men’s Singles finals he has reached, he has lost to most creditable adversaries. In 2012 in Russia he was beaten by Xu Xin, the same year in Poland by Wang Hao and then again the following year he reached the final in Poland only to lose to Fan Zhendiong.
A talented left hander, Yu Ziyang is another of that ilk but since beating Japan’s Jun Mizutani in the final at the GAC Group 2014 ITTF World Tour Japan Open to become, at the time, the youngest player to win such a title and then later in the year to be crowned World Junior champion, he has not blossomed.
Now add to the equation, Zhou Kai; impressive at the 2013 World Junior Championships in Rabat but since that date, very much in the shadows.
Points to prove most certainly but who will make the most impact and not only prove the point but above all prove himself?