FAN ZHENDONG & DING NING SIT ON TOP OF THE WORLD
It’s official! FAN Zhendong and DING Ning head into 2019 on top of the Men’s and Women’s World Rankings respectively. The Chinese pair hit extraordinary heights in 2018 and were subsequently crowned winners of the ITTF Star Awards in Incheon, Korea.
DING Ning’s return to the number 1 position completes a remarkable turnaround over the last 12 months. She had started January 2018 in 21st place.
Having already occupied the number 1 position for a total 48 months (Nov 2011 – Aug 2013; Oct 2014 – Oct 2015; Oct 2016 – Oct 2017), the 29-year-old sealed her place at the summit again upon reaching the semi-finals of the World Tour Grand Finals last December.
A productive 2018 saw her claim titles at the Women’s World Cup and Bulgarian Open, whilst finishing runner-up at the China and Australian Opens.
Meanwhile FAN Zhendong’s first stint as world number one heads into its 10th month, having risen to the summit in April 2018.
The 21-year-old enjoyed an exceptional past year, winning three ITTF World Tour events (Hungarian, Qatar and Swedish Opens), the Men’s World Cup and the ITTF Asian Cup.
HARIMOTO & CALDERANO START YEAR NEAR THE SUMMIT
After playing the best Table Tennis of their respective careers in 2018, Tomokazu HARIMOTO (JPN) and Hugo CALDERANO (BRA) will start the new year in their highest ever World Ranking positions.
HARIMOTO rises two places to 3rd having won the Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals in Incheon. At just 15 years and 172 days old, he became the youngest ever player to claim a Singles title at the end-of-year showpiece event and he is now also the youngest ever 3rd-placed player in World Ranking history.
The teenager dropped just three games over the course of the entire tournament, as he saw off Patrick FRANZISKA (GER), JANG Woojin (KOR), CALDERANO and, in the final, LIN Gaoyuan (CHN), to lift the trophy.
Meanwhile, CALDERANO remains at number 6, but has opened up a significant gap of almost 600 points between himself and 7th-placed LEE Sangsu (KOR) after he too impressed in Korea, beating world number 1, FAN Zhendong in a breath-taking quarter-final encounter.
China maintains three of the top five positions with XU Xin and LIN Gaoyuan occupying 2nd and 4th places respectively, while Timo BOLL (GER) drops to 5th as a result of HARIMOTO’s jump up the pecking order.
Further down the list, Jun MIZUTANI (JPN) moves into the top 10 after reaching the semi-finals in Incheon, JANG Woojin (KOR) rises to 11th as MA Long (CHN) drops to 12th, while Dimitrij OVTCHAROV (GER) falls to 14th place just 12 months after topping the Men’s World Ranking.
LIU SHIWEN RETURNS TO WOMEN’S TOP 5
Back to the Women’s World Ranking, ZHU Yuling (CHN) drops to 2nd place after six consecutive months at the top, having been overtaken by DING Ning.
Following up close behind are Kasumi ISHIKAWA (JPN) and CHEN Meng (CHN) in 3rd and 4th respectively.
The only other movement within the Women’s top 10 sees LIU Shiwen (CHN) overtake WANG Manyu (CHN) into 5th place, meaning that the promising 19-year-old starts the new year in 6th.
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