by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
The quest for Ding Ning is three firsts; to win the Women’s Singles event, to win the Swedish Open for the first time in her career and to regain her top spot on the Women’s World Rankings.
On Wednesday 1st November Ding Ning relinquished her no.1 ranked position, a berth she had held for 13 consecutive monthly editions and for 51 publications overall. She was replaced by colleague Zhu Yuling and having not competed internationally since winning the Women’s Singles title at the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour China Open in Chengdu in late June, her name no longer appeared on the Women’s World Rankings.
Pertinently the absence means that she cannot qualify for the forthcoming Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals to be staged in Astana, Kazakhstan from Thursday 14th to Sunday 17th December. Chengdu is her only other attendance on this year’s Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour; thus she will not be had met the mandatory five tournament appearance criteria.
Notably her most recent competitive appearance was the Chinese National Games in Tianjin in early September when she won the Women’s Singles title beating Liu Shiwen in the final.
However, in Stockholm, the seeding is based on the October list; thus Ding Ning is the top seed.
Unquestionably, Ding Ning, having won all the major titles the sport has to offer, stands amongst the modern day all-time greats; she stands alongside the likes of compatriots Deng Yaping, Li Xiaoxia, Wang Nan and Zhang Yining.
Equal but on the ITTF World Tour in terms of Women’s Singles titles won, she is in third place; win in Stockholm and she moves ever closer to second spot.
A first success in Kuwait in 2009, overall she has 13 such titles to her name; Wang Nan won 16 times between 1997 and 2006 whilst in a class of her own, miles ahead of the field is Zhang Yining, she won on no less than 29 occasions between 1998 and 2009.
Win in Stockholm then for Ding Ning just a mere 16 more to be the best of all, it took Zhang Ying 11 years, Ding Ning has three more years in that period of time. Average about five or six a year, no problem?