After two days of exhilarating qualification rounds in the city which will host next year’s World Table Tennis Championships, many of the sport’s greatest global stars are set to do battle between now and Sunday 7th July with prestigious silverware, prize money and valuable world ranking points all at stake!
ENTER THE NEW WORLD NO.1
XU Xin (CHN) rose to the summit of the ITTF world ranking on Tuesday and will look to end the week with what would be his second World Tour title of the year.
The 2019 Japan Open champion begins his campaign against Yuki HIRANO (JPN) and could face world no.4 Tomokazu HARIMOTO (JPN) in a potential semi-final. Harimoto faces Jon PERSSON (SWE) on Thursday in a repeat of their World Championships clash, won by the Japanese 16-year-old.
Two other teenagers face off on his side of the draw: LIN Yun-Ju (TPE) and WANG Chuqin (CHN) both have very bright futures in the sport and will be under close inspection by their rivals and fans alike.
CAN JANG WOOJIN DO IT AGAIN?!
JANG Woojin (KOR) is out to defend his men’s singles and doubles titles from last year’s incredible triple crown success. First of all, the seeded home favourite must get past XUE Fei (CHN). A potential clash with compatriot JEOUNG Youngsik (KOR) could await him afterwards, followed by a quarter-final contest against world no.3 FAN Zhendong (CHN).
A two-time winner already on the 2018 ITTF World Tour (in Qatar and China), MA Long (CHN) could well set up a quarter-final against Mattias FALCK (SWE), whom he beat at this year’s World Championships final in Budapest.
WOMEN’S SINGLES SHOWDOWNS
In a draw dominated by Chinese and Japanese star players, arguably the most eye-catching fixture from Thursday’s round of 32 pits LIU Shiwen (CHN) against Hina HAYATA (JPN).
Hayata defeated Liu at this year’s Challenge Plus Portugal Open to win the title in what remains the world champion’s only defeat to a non-Chinese opponent so far in 2019.
DING Ning (CHN) locks horns with compatriot HE Zhuojia, who shocked the world no.3 at the semi-final stage of 2018 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals, also played on Korean soil in Incheon.
WANG Manyu (CHN) will face Manika BATRA (IND) in the round of 32 and her likeliest quarter-final opponent would be Mima ITO (JPN), whom she defeated just one month ago in the semi-finals of the China Open.
Meanwhile, world no.1 CHEN Meng and world no.4 ZHU Yuling could rekindle their rivalry too in a potential quarter-final meeting. The Chinese duo have so far won 11 times each across 22 international encounters.
ENJOY THE RIDE!
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