by Ian Marshall, Editor
Next in line is colleague Ma Long, the two players commencing matters in totally different situations; Fan Zhendong is very much the man in form having won the men’s event at the recent Marvellous 12 in Shenzhen without losing a single match. Conversely, Ma Long is seeking to find his form having been absent from the international scene since competing last August at the Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour, Asarel Bulgaria Open in Panagyurishte.
However, it is Ma Long who Fan Zhendong aims to emulate.
Alongside Xu Xin, not competing this year, a national association being limited to two players, Ma Long has won the title four times. He won in 2008 in Sapporo and the following year in Huangzhou; later he succeeded in 2011 in Changsha and 2014 in Wuhan.
Four times the winner, basically when he has played he has won; a fifth win and that would set him ahead of the field and maintain his quite incredible record. Meanwhile for Xu Xin life is somewhat different but he lays claim to the most medals. He won in 2012 in Guangzhou, the following year in Hong Kong, before repeating the success in 2015 in Jaipur and in 2016 in Dubai. Additionally in 2011 he was the runner up, in 2010 a bronze medallist.
In terms of titles, Fan Zhendong has to go some distance to match his colleagues; however, in one respect if he wins in Yokohama he will be their equal. Alongside, Wang Hao who won in 2005 in New Delhi and in 2006 in Kobe; Ma Long and Xu Xin are the only players to have clinched the title in consecutive years.
Seeking to emulate colleagues but Fan Zhendong is the holder of one record, one that in Yokohama will not be equalled; perhaps it is one which he might prefer not to hold. He is the only player to have been the runner up three times; in 2014 in Wuhan, 2015 in Jaipur and 2017 in Ahmedabad he was the silver medallist.
Confirmed entries – men
1. Fan Zhendong (China) 2. Ma Long (China) 3. Tomokazu Harimoto (Japan) 4. Lee Sangsu (Korea Republic) 5. Wong Chun Ting (Hong Kong) 6. Koki Niwa (Japan) 7. Jang Woojin (Korea Republic) 8. Chuang Chih-Yuan (Chinese Taipei) 9. Lin Yun-Ju (Chinese Taipei) 10.Sharath Kamal Achanta (India) 11. Sathiyan Gnanasekaran (India) 12. Kirill Gerassimenko (Kazakhstan) 13. Nima Alamian (Iran) 14. Imesh Ranasingha (Sri Lanka) 15. Supanut Wisutmaythangkoon (Thailand) 16. Mohammed Abdulwahab (Qatar).