by Kabir Nagpal & James Francis
Mima Ito on a roll!
It is now the 11th successive month that China’s Chen Meng sits at the helm of the women’s ranking following her second World Tour win of the year, at the 2020 ITTF World Tour Platinum Qatar Open. Her total of 17,915 points is an unfathomable 2,475 points lead to her nearest competitor.
But that competitor just so happens to be breaking records of her own, as Japan’s Mima Ito finally broke the Chinese dominance in the top two, after she took the world no.2 spot from Sun Yingsha. Winner of the 2020 ITTF World Tour Hungarian Open, Ito found herself face to face with world no.1 Chen Meng in the final of the Qatar Open, which truly cements this 1-2 line-up in the women’s ranking.
While China suffered a drop with Sun Yingsha down to no.3, there was good news for 2019 Women’s World Cup and World Champion Liu Shiwen who rose to no.4 and swapped places with Wang Manyu – a month after the two Chinese athletes had done the opposite swap, for the second time in a row.
For the rest of the top 10 in the women’s ranking, there is no change whatsoever. Ding Ning “The Queen of Hearts” remains at no.6, followed immediately by compatriot Zhu Yuling.
Chinese Taipei’s Cheng I-Ching, who only recently broke into the top 10, stays at no.8 with her consistent performances in Germany and Hungary enough to prevent any major loss of points.
Finally, in a surprising twist there is no world no.10 this month, as both Feng Tianwei from Singapore and Japan’s Kasumi Ishikawa are tied at 11,100 points, meaning they are both world no.9!
Fan flying high!
China’s Fan Zhendong has wrestled back the no.1 spot, having relinquished it at the start of the new decade to compatriot Xu Xin, who led him by 345 points at the beginning of March.
Winner of the 2020 ITTF World Tour Platinum Qatar Open, Fan got the boost that takes him 655 points ahead of Xu, as their fascinating tug of war at the top continues. Fan had held the top spot continuously from April 2018 to June 2019, and then reoccupied the no.1 position more briefly from November 2019 after winning last year’s ITTF World Tour German Open.
Ma Long maintains his spot in the top 3 after the Dragon could only reach the round of 16 at the Qatar Open – a tournament famed for his superb performances over the years. This time however, his run was ended by the prodigious Chinese talent, Wang Chuqin.
Breaking ever closer to the Chinese elite is Japan’s Tomokazu Harimoto, who finally displaced Lin Gaoyuan to take the world no.4 ranking. Harimoto had won the 2020 ITTF World Tour Hungarian Open in February, which proved crucial as both Harimoto (13,245 points) and Lin (13,240 points) exited the Qatar Open in the round of 16.
Immediately outside the top five, there is a swap in places for Lin Yun-Ju and Hugo Calderano, with the Brazilian superseding the Chinese Taipei youngster to achieve the world no.6 spot. The points gap between the two is a marginal 155 points.
After China’s Liang Jingkun reached the quarter-finals of the Qatar Open, while Sweden’s Mattias Falck exited one round prior, there was one final swap in the top 10 with Liang boosted to world no.8 and Falck dropping to no.9.
German legend Timo Boll stays in at no.10, after he exchanged places last month with compatriot Dimitrij Ovtcharov, who remains right behind him at no.11.
ITTF Rankings frozen until activities resume
Due to the current suspension of ITTF events in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the latest ITTF Rankings, as released on 16th April 2020, will be frozen until activities resume.
The decision was confirmed at the latest ITTF Executive Committee meeting held on 15th April 2020, following the recommendations from the World Ranking Group and the Athletes Commission.