THE RETURN OF XU-PERMAN
You have to wind the clock back to February 2015 for when Xu Xin last topped the charts in the men’s singles global ranking. Fast forward 53 months and the Chinese star is back on top of the world order (14,945 points) after a string of impressive results since April’s World Table Tennis Championships in Budapest.
Having dusted himself down from the disappointment of his round of 32 defeat to Simon Gauzy in the Hungarian capital, Xu has been a major force on the ITTF World Tour, reaching the semi-final in China and winning a remarkable triple crown in Japan.
Add to that two further semi-final appearances at the Hungarian and Qatar Opens earlier in the year and it’s clear that, for all his unpredictability and trickery at the table, Xu is among the most consistent performers of 2019 so far – and that’s not even taking into consideration his awesome record in the doubles, where he has claimed gold at this year’s World Championships and Japan Open (in the mixed doubles) and Hungarian Open (in the men’s doubles).
So, how long will the 29-year-old’s reign at the summit now last? Xu held the no.1 spot for an entire year between March 2014 and February 2015. He has led the world ranking for a total of 16 months in his career since claiming pole position for the first time in January 2013.
FAN ZHENDONG FALLS TO THIRD
Xu Xin’s rise to the top brings an end to Fan Zhendong’s 15-month reign as world no.1, who has fallen to third place (14,670 points).
Since winning the ITTF-ATTU Asian Cup in early April, the 22-year-old has endured a tough couple of months and is still without a trophy on this year’s ITTF World Tour – something he will be looking to put right at this week’s Korea Open in Busan.
Fellow Chinese, Lin Gaoyuan, remains in second place (14,835 points) having been just five points behind Fan Zhendong during the month of June. The ‘Dark Knight’ has won the Hungarian and Hong Kong Opens this year, but – unlike Xu Xin – is yet to win a Platinum event on the ITTF World Tour this year, which garner greater world ranking points.
Japan’s Tomokazu Harimoto and China’s Ma Long remain fourth and fifth respectively.
NO CHANGE IN WOMEN’S TOP 10
Significant movements on the men’s front, but it’s as we were in the women’s singles, where Chen Meng enters her second successive month as world no.1 (16,330 points).
Following behind are world champion Liu Shiwen, Ding Ning, Zhu Yuling and Wang Manyu, as China keep the top five positions, with Japanese duo, Kasumi Ishikawa and Mima Ito sitting in sixth and seventh places respectively.