by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
The top spot is a result of a series of outstanding performances in the past year by the now 29 year old who enjoyed the best 12 months of his career.
He won the ITTF Europe Top 16 Cup, as well as at the Liebherr Men’s World Cup in addition to reserving the top step of the podium on the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour in Bulgaria, China, Germany and India. Additionally he reached the fourth round of the Men’s Singles event at the Liebherr 2017 World Championships and was the runner up at the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals.
Simply, those results are the reason why for the first time in his career, Dimitrij Ovtcharov occupies the no.1 spot in the world order; the system now in place being based on the best eight results gained in the immediate preceding 12 month period, as opposed to the previous system when wins and losses against adversaries were the basis calculator.
No other incumbent can match that record; colleague Timo Boll appears at no.3 behind China’s Fan Zhendong but other notable names, who like Timo Boll have ascended to the top spot during their illustrious careers, the new listings do not make the most pleasant reading.
China’s Xu Xin is at no.5; colleague Ma Long, the reigning Olympic Games and World champion is at no.7, whilst Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus stands at no.25. Most significantly, Zhang Jike, also from China and like Ma Long, the winner of the most prestigious titles on planet earth, occupies the no.54 spot.
Notably, Jun Mizutani, in recent times, the highest rated Japanese player on the Men’s World Rankings is now at no.13; the leading names from the Land of the Rising Sun being Koki Niwa at no.6, Kenta Matsudaira at no.10 and Tomokazu Harimoto, one place lower.
Similarly, Sharath Kamal Achanta is no longer the top listed player from India; he appears at no.51, three places behind Sathiyan Gnanasekaran at no.48.
Progress for South Asia but if any part of the world has reason to rejoice it is Africa; two players from that continent in the top 20 for the first time ever. Egypt’s Omar Assar is at no.16, Nigeria’s Quadri Aruna at no.20.
Meanwhile, on the Under 21 Men’s World Rankings, organised in a similar manner to that of the Men’s listings but with best six performances as opposed to the best eight in the last 12 months being taken into consideration and only in the age group, Japan is very much in evidence.
Mizuki Oikawa occupies top spot with colleague Yuto Kizukuri in the no.3 position; sandwiched in between is Korea’s Cho Seungmin.
The Under 18 Boys’ and Under 15 Girls’ World Rankings are planned for release in mid-January.
Monday 1st January: Men’s World Rankings
Monday 1st January: Women’s World Rankings
Monday 1st January: Explanation –World Ranking