11 Dec 2018

The Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals is only a few days away with the action set to commence in the Korean city of Incheon on Thursday 13th December.

Following Ma Long’s injury withdrawal prior to the event, the final part of our “Meet the Qualifiers” series focuses on the top four seeded players set to contest the Men’s Singles competition.

by Simon Daish

Tomokazu Harimoto

The teenager taking the world of table tennis by storm, Japan’s Tomokazu Harimoto isn’t just one of the sport’s brightest young prospects but is already one of the finest players competing at the very top of the game and heads to Incheon as the no.4 seed. Just 15 years old but Harimoto has already won two World Tour Men’s Singles titles, been a World Championships quarter-finalist and is now rated at no.5 in the latest world rankings list.

Road to Incheon

There’s no questioning Harimoto’s biggest moment of the 2018 World Tour with his marvellous display in Kitakyushu producing his best outing of the season. Seeded sixth for the event, Harimoto saw off the likes of Ma Long, Lee Sangsu and Zhang Jike to send the home crowd wild.

Did You Know?

Harimoto is the youngest player to have ever won the Boys’ Singles title at the World Junior Championships, the youngest to have succeeded in the Men’s Singles category at the Japanese National Championships and also holds the record for the youngest to have won a Men’s Singles trophy on the World Tour with his victory at the 2017 Czech Open aged just 14 years and 61 days old at the time!

Liang Jingkun

Can Liang Jingkun continue his impressive recent run at the upcoming Grand Finals? (Photo: Rémy Gros)

Appearing at the Grand Finals for the first time, Liang Jingkun makes his debut in the no.3 seeded position and could well be set to bring his season’s fine work to a spectacular close in Incheon. China’s Liang heads into the tournament in arguably the strongest form of his career to date and is beginning to emerge as one of his country’s top competitors on the world stage.

Road to Incheon

Rather promisingly Liang has already enjoyed a strong performance on Korean soil having finished as runner-up at the World Tour event in Daejeon. However, it was in Linz that he achieved his crowning moment, starting in the qualification stages before going on to beat Hugo Calderano, Fan Zhendong and Xu Xin on his way to a first title win on the World Tour.

Did You Know?

His fantastic outing in Linz helped Liang rise an impressive 44 places to position no.36 in December’s world rankings!

Fan Zhendong

The no.1 ranked player in the men’s game but Fan Zhendong isn’t the top seeded player heading to Incheon (Photo: Rémy Gros)

World no.1, two times Men’s World Cup champion, runner-up at last year’s World Championships, now Fan Zhendong will attempt to defend his World Tour Grand Finals title and will feel confident of his chances in Incheon following a highly successful year on the international scene for the 21-year-old athlete.

Road to Incheon

Starting the year in style with his successful outcome in Budapest, Fan toppled surprise finalist Hugo Calderano a couple of months later in Doha. The World no.1’s third World Tour trophy of the season came in Stockholm, beating fellow compatriot Xu Xin at the final hurdle.

Did You Know?

Fan is bidding to become only the third player in the history of the Grand Finals to successfully defend the Men’s Singles title with Ma Long and Xu Xin the only players to have achieved the feat!

Xu Xin

Will Xu Xin lift the Grand Finals trophy for the first time since 2013? (Photo: Rémy Gros)

Speaking of Xu Xin, the master of pen-hold himself has been named as the top seeded competitor in the Men’s Singles draw. Aiming to reach the top step of the medals podium for a third time, the Chinese star has amassed an impressive collection of silverware including the 2013 Men’s World Cup, the 2014 Asian Games title, four Asian Cups and 14 World Tour singles gold medals.

Road to Incheon

Securing a semi-finals finish in Doha before emerging as the runner-up in Bremen but there was no stopping Xu at the events in Geelong and Panagyurishte, securing the Men’s Singles titles on both occasions. Last month the 28-year-old emerged as runner-up in Stockholm and Linz but will be hoping to climb one step higher up the podium in Incheon.

Did You Know?

Xu Xin is one of only three pen-hold grip players to have won the Men’s Singles prize at the Grand Finals with Ma Lin and Wang Hao the other champions to have favoured the grip!

More Information

World Tour 2018 Seamaster Grand Finals Fan Zhendong xu xin Tomokazu Harimoto Liang Jingkun

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Day 4 - Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals

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