25 Jan 2019

The Chinese Table Tennis Association opts against sending the star women’s duo to Lisbon for February’s debut ITTF Challenge Plus event.

Confirmation has arrived from the Chinese Table Tennis Association (CTTA) that CHEN Meng and WANG Manyu will no longer be participating at the Seamaster 2019 ITTF Challenge Plus Portugal Open, causing uproar among Chinese fans on Weibo.

The star women’s players, currently ranked 4th and 6th respectively in the world, had only been put forward for the event last week, shortly before Japanese rival, Mima ITO (world no. 7) had also withdrawn.

The event, to be held between 13-17 February in Lisbon, will be the very first of the new Challenge Plus format, offering higher tier events within the rebranded and more professionalised Challenge Series.

Chinese duo, LIU Shiwen (5th in the women’s ranking) and LIN Gaoyuan (4th in the men’s ranking) will still be taking part in Portugal, however.

While the latter began 2019 in the best possible way, winning Men’s Singles gold at the Seamaster 2019 ITTF World Tour Hungarian Open last weekend, LIU Shiwen is seeking a first title since last summer’s Australian Open.

The 27-year-old, who has four World Cups and three World Tour Grand Finals crowns to her name, is pinpointing next month’s event looking to return to winning ways, according to her coach MA Lin.

“LIU Shiwen’s participation in Lisbon is a decision that we have made together,” explained MA Lin in a statement on Weibo.

“She has experienced some ups and downs recently and needs to win matches and get her hands on another title to help boost her confidence. It will help her a lot if she can win silverware again, even if this is a Challenge Series event.”

MA Lin underlined the importance of LIU Shiwen regaining form particularly at this point in time, with the Liebherr 2019 ITTF World Table Tennis Championships – the sport’s biggest event of the year – less than three months away, taking place between 21-28 April in Budapest, Hungary.

“We need to prepare for the World Championships in the best possible condition. We will not have a break for Chinese New Year, but that is not a concern for us, as it is worthy fighting for the country at all costs.

“Thank you for all of your support to LIU Shiwen and to the Chinese national team,” he concluded.

General News Challenge Series Mima Ito Chen Meng liu shiwen Wang Manyu Lin Gaoyuan Ma Lin

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