by Ian Marshall, Editor
A successful title defence, it is not beyond the bounds of possibility but the 21 year old faces a monumental task; the top 14 names are all present as they strive to cement their places in the US$ 1,000,000 Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals to be staged in Incheon, Korea Republic later this year.
All are more than contenders to qualify; expect for China’s Zhu Yuling and Chen Meng, all have met the minimum five appearance criteria. Currently, Zhu Yuling and Chen Meng have made only three excursions but by competing in Sweden and the following week in Austria, they will meet the required number.
Retaining the Women’s Singles title, history suggests the odds are very much against Chen Xintong; since the tournament was first staged over 60 years ago only three players have achieved the feat and none in modern times.
Romania’s Angelica Rozeanu won when the inaugural event, known as the Scandinavian Open, was held in Stockholm in 1954 and in the same city in 1955; representing West Germany, Agnes Simon succeeded in 1960 in Helsingborg and in 1962 in Stockholm, whilst Hungary’s Eva Koczian emerged successful in Borås in1962 and in 1963 when the event returned to the capital city.
In fact Agnes Simon and Eva Koczian are the only players to have won three times. Additionally, in 1958 in Borås when on duty for the Netherlands, Agnes Simon prevailed, as did Eva Koczian the following year when the tournament returned to Stockholm.
Fast forward to modern times, the era of the ITTF World Tour and only China’s Guo Yan and Zhang Yining have ever won twice but not in consecutive years. Guo Yan won in Skovde in 2001 and in 2011 in Stockholm; Zhang Yining succeeded in 2000 in Umea and in 2014 in Stockholm.
Now in 2018, in addition to Chen Xingtong there are three further players aiming to win the title for a second time; always in Stockholm, colleagues Chen Meng won in 2013 and Zhu Yuling in 2014, Japan’s Kasumi Ishikawa in 2016.
Can they win for a second time? Now, note the names that are missing from that list and are present this year, Ding Ning, Olympic and World champion, plus Liu Shiwen, four times winner of the Women’s World Cup; a tough task for Chen Xingtong to retain her crown and for previous winners to regain the crown. The presence illustrious names makes the suggestion one massive understatement.