by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
A minimum five appearances in Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour tournaments is the basic requirement, China’s Fan Zhendong and Xu Xin, the respective top two seeds, will meet that requirement by competing in Sweden.
Furthermore, despite his recent semi-final defeat against Germany’s Dimitrij Ovtcharov in Magdeburg, Fan Zhendong must be in a confident mood as he returns to Stockholm; in that city on three occasions he has reached the Men’s Singles final. In 2014 he overcame colleague Fang Bo, in 2015 he accounted for Xu Xin, whilst in the title deciding contest in 2013, he was beaten by Yan An, likewise from China.
In a similar manner by competing in Sweden, Fang Bo, the no.7 seed, will complete the basic five tournament criteria to be eligible for an invitation to the Grand Finals. However, for Yan An, the no.10 seed, it is not an option; the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Swedish Open will be only his fourth appearance of the year.
Success for Fan Zhendong will make him the most successful male player in the history of the Swedish Open since the event joined the ITTF World Tour in 1996, the inaugural year. The only other player to have won on more than one occasion is his now retired compatriot, Wang Liqin; he won three times. He emerged successful in 1999 in Karlskrona, two years later in Skovde and in 2003 when the tournament was staged in Malmö.
Next in line to Fang Zhendong and Xu Xin in this year’s seeding is Japan’s Koki Niwa, one of the most familiar faces on the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour. He will be making no less than his ninth appearance; he is followed in the order of merit by China’s Lin Gaoyuan, Chinese Taipei’s Wong Chun Ting and colleague Kenta Matsudaira.
All have passed the qualification mark; for Lin Gaoyuan and Wong Chun Ting it will be for each their sixth excursion, for Kenta Matsudaira his tenth, more than any other of the leading names on duty in Stockholm.
Completing the top eight names is Chinese Taipei’s Chuang Chih-Yuan, he will be making his seventh appearance and is one of only two names on duty who has won the Men’s Singles title at the Grand Finals.
Furthermore, he has a liking for Stockholm, he won in 2002 when the city hosted the prestigious event; the other winner is Xu Xin. He emerged successful in 2012 in Hangzhou and in early 2014 in Dubai.