by Matt Solt
The most significant events to expire for determining the September 2018 World Rankings were the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour tournaments in Bulgaria and the Czech Opens, held again in the same month this year. Players who were placed well last year needed to equal or improve on their results to maintain parity.
Japan’s Kenta Matsudaira was the Men’s Singles runner up in Bulgaria this year and in 2017; he experiences a drop in his overall points and his position on the list, because his Czech Open points were also among his top eight results. He did not compete in the Czech Republic this August. He dropped from no.19 to no.23.
Somewhat, conversely Ma Long’s moves up one place to no.6, despite his only match in August being defeat at the hands of England’s Liam Pitchford in Bulgaria; the reason is that Ma Long has only seven events to his name that count for world ranking points in the past year. No points from August expired and he earned 450 points in Bulgaria, half the standard amount given to seeded players, who lose in the first round.
Rather differently Japan’s Tomokazu Harimoto, who has been present at no less than 15 events on the ITTF calendar in the past year, dropped below Ma Long and Korea Republic’s Lee Sangsu who was inactive in August this year and last.
Meanwhile, the upsets caused by Liam Pitchford in beating Ma Long and then in the Czech Republic Germany’s Dimitrij Ovtcharov have propelled him to a new high of no. 31 on the ranking. Starting in the qualification tournament in Bulgaria allowed Liam Pitchford to collect points from his wins and eventually add them to those gained in the main draw; this advantage for qualifiers allows a quicker ascendancy on the list while acknowledging their victories at the early stages.
Legend of the sport from Belarus, Vladimir Samsonov returns to the no.30 position after a month outside of the top 50 for the first time in 25 years, since April 1993.
Vladi was quick to make his presence known in Bulgaria with a quarter-final finish, before in the Czech Republic departing proceedings one round earlier. Winner at the Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Czech Open in Olomouc, China’s Zheng Peifeng enters at no.148, following an international absence.
Now 22 years old, partnering Song Hongyuan, Zheng Peifeng won the Boys’ Doubles title in 2011 at the World Junior Championships when 15 years of age. Previously, his best Men’s World ranking was no.127 in November 2010 when junior results counted towards a player’s senior ranking.
Meanwhile, on the women’s list Ding Ning emulated her male counterpart Ma Long, moving from no.7 to no.6; Ding Ning’s first title in 2018 and 14th on the ITTF World Tour makes her the third most successful female player on the Tour to date behind Wang Nan (16 titles) and Zhang Yining (29 titles).
The points earned in Panagyurishte means she cemented her hold on this high position. She has no results that expire in her top eight until the December list is published.
Making a splash in both Bulgaria and Czech Republic was Romania’s Bernadette Szocs, a regular face on the Tour; she has attended seven of the events staged in 2018. A round of 16 finish at each location, boosted her to her highest ever ranking of no.26. Additionally, with the 2018 Europe Top 16 Cup under her belt, she will head to the Uncle Pop 2018 Women’s World Cup held in Chengdu at the end of September, where prestige and points are at a premium.
Along with the Uncle Pop 2018 Women’s World Cup and the Asian Games, other major events counting towards the next senior ranking lists are the African Championships currently being staged in Mauritius and the European Championships in Spain.
Keep an eye on your favourite players to see how they fare, and check their results from September 2017, those will be the next to expire.
In principle the Men’s and World Rankings take the best eight results gained in the most recent one year period, except for those gained at a World Championships which until the next is staged.
Saturday 1st September: Latest World Rankings