by Kabir Nagpal
Star names appear on the entry list; a mouth-watering schedule awaits.
Top brass ignites year
Every men’s singles winner on the 2019 ITTF World Tour, with the exception of the suspended Wang Chuqin, is named on the entry list; it is the same for the women.
China provides the top seeds in both disciplines, Xu Xin and Chen Meng lead the respective seeding, the order being based on the December 2019 world rankings.
The Cloudwalker Xu had a stunning 2019 in terms of the ITTF World Tour, even though he was later overshadowed by the newly crowned world no.1 Fan Zhendong – the winner in Austria and Germany – as well as at the Agricultural Bank of China ITTF World Tour Grand Finals.
Following the top three names is the legendary Ma Long who last year after winning in Qatar and China extended his list of men’s singles titles on the ITTF World Tour to 28 in number, an all-time record. Also from China, Lin Gaoyuan is the no.4 seed, Liang Jingkun, the no.8 seed.
For the women singles, the Chinese presence is equally strong. Sun Yingsha and Liu Shiwen follow Chen Meng in the order of merit, both of whom enjoyed spectacular success last year.
Listed as low as no.29 on the women’s world rankings last year in April, ending the year in the no.2 spot, winning in Australia, Japan and also Germany, Sun Yingsha rose from qualifier to champion.
Meanwhile, Liu won the won women’s singles gold at the Liebherr 2019 World Championships, the Uncle Pop 2019 Women’s World Cup, and also succeeded at the ZEN-NOH 2019 Team World Cup!
Most worthy Chinese names amongst the elite, they are not alone, colleague Wang Manyu is the no.5 seed, followed by Zhu Yuling and Ding Ning; all are very much players who could strike gold in the opening ITTF World tournament of the year.
Exciting hopefuls stir the pot
Fans are more than likely to be on the edge of their seats in Magdeburg, as there are plenty of exciting challengers for the top seeds. Teenagers Japan’s Tomokazu Harimoto and Chinese Taipei’s Lin Yun-Ju are set to continue in their rich veins of form as they challenge for a podium place.
Tomokazu Harimoto is the no.5 seed, Lin Yun-Ju the no.7 seed; sandwiched in between is Brazil’s Hugo Calderano.
Meanwhile, in the women’s draw, Japan’s Mima Ito and Chinese Taipei’s Cheng I-Ching will want to upset Chinese hegemony, Mima Ito is the no.4 seed, Cheng I-Ching the no.8 seed.
Additionally names to watch in the men’s singles event are undoubtedly Sweden’s Mattias Falck, the no.10 seed, followed by the host nation’s Timo Boll and Dimitrij Ovtcharov. Both Germans will undoubtedly bring passionate support from the home crowd.
Similarly in the women’s singles, Singapore’s Feng Tianwei and Japan’s Kasumi Ishikawa have a similarly large fan-following across the globe; their supporters will expect them to put up their best foot forward to kick-start the 2020 ITTF World Tour. Feng Tianwei and Kasumi Ishikawa complete the top ten names.
Notably ending the year in top spot on the men’s doubles standing, Korea Republic’s Jeoung Youngsik with Lee Sangsu head the list in Magdeburg. Next in line is the partnership of Lin Gaoyuan with Ma Long followed by Chinese Taipei’s Liao Cheng-Ting with Lin Yun-Ju.
Runners up last year when the tournament was held last October in Bremen, the host nation’s Qiu Dang with Duda Benedikt reserve the no.4 seeded position.
Chinese Taipei in evidence, it is the same in the women’s doubles. Cheng Hsien-Tsu and Chen Szu-Yu occupy the no.2 seeded position behind Chen Meng and Wang Manyu. Korea Republic’s Jeon Jihee and Yang Haeun followed by Ding Ning and Sun Yingsha complete the top four seeded pairs.
In preparation for the 2020 Olympic Games, pairs seen in Magdeburg will be sure to state their case; all are major title medal contenders in Tokyo.
Xu Xin and Liu Shiwen, the favourites for gold, occupy the top seeded spot followed by Lin Yun-Ju and Cheng I-Ching. Hong Kong’s Wong Chun Ting and Doo Hoi Kem are the next in line with Jun Mizutani and Mima Ito, the no.4 seeds.
One wonders, are the mixed doubles medallists in Tokyo amongst the top four pairs in Magdeburg?
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