by Wade Townsend
When the Women’s World Ranking list is published on January 1st 2018, there are just two names that can be at the top. The race is between Chen Meng and Zhu Yuling.
It should come as no surprise. The duo are currently the top two players in the world and both have had a sensational 2017 on the World Tour.
The pair have a rich history. Chen Feng and Zhu Yuling emerged through the junior ranks together, even exchanging World Junior Singles titles from 2010 to 2012. There are also stylistic similarities between the pair, far closer in technique than the likes of Ding Ning and Liu Shiwen. Five years on they are battling again, but this time for the No.1 World Ranking.
So who is most likely to enter 2018 as the best player in the world?
Today Chen Meng will face off against Gu Yuting in the quarterfinal of the Women’s Singles at the ITTF World Tour Grand Finals. There is more at stake than just a place in last four. If Chen Meng can win this encounter she will guarantee her place as the World No.1. The pair have only encountered each other twice in ITTF events. On both occasions Chen clearly emerged the winner, dropping just one game in total.
If the match doesn’t follow the script, then the ball will be in Zhu Yuling’s court.
Should Chen Meng lose today, then Zhu Yuling will have simple yet difficult task in from of her. The current World No.1 will have to win the World Tour Finals to hold on to the top spot. Anything short of gold and Chen Meng will be the new number one.
History favours Chen Meng, but there may be some surprises in store yet in Astana.