by Wade Townsend
There’s just one more event left on the ITTF calendar and the No.1 World Ranking is up for grabs.
In the men it remains a two horse race. Dimitrij Ovtcharov and Fan Zhendong are the only two athletes still in contention for the top ranking come 2018, and the ball is almost entirely in Ovtcharov’s court.
If the German can progress beyond the first round at the ITTF World Tour Grand Finals, then the top spot will be his. If Ovtcharov happens to lose in the first round, which seems unlikely as he will be the No.1 seed, then Fan has to win the event to take the top ranking off him.
But perhaps Fan will be more focused on securing the second spot on the list. If Timo Boll can reach one round further than Fan in the World Tour Grand Finals, then Boll will be ranked No.2.
It’s starting to look like 2018 is going to be a watershed year for men’s table tennis.
Those top three players have a sizeable lead over the next group chasing them. Xu Xin is more than likely going to enter the New Year as the world No.4 and keep Koki Niwa one step behind at No.5. Meanwhile Ma Long looks set to drop to No.6 and will need to have a few more appearances on the World Tour and a couple of deep runs to up his ranking.
In the women’s it is down to Chen Meng and Zhu Yuling for the top spot, but the odds favour Chen. Zhu has to progress two stages further than Chen in order to have a chance to hold on to the No.1 ranking. If she doesn’t then Chen is moving on up.