On Friday 4th September it was announced that international table tennis events will resume after several months of suspended activity due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The two World Cup events will be held in China on the following dates:
Uncle Pop 2020 ITTF Women’s World Cup: 8 – 10 November 2020
Liebherr 2020 ITTF Men’s World Cup: 13 – 15 November 2020
The World Cups will feature 20 female and 20 male athletes, including the World Champion, qualified players from all completed continental events (Africa, Europe and Pan America) and players selected by world ranking from the other continents (Asia and Oceania) as well as the whole world according to the provisional World Cup playing system. The players from Asia are the same who would have played at the 2020 Asian Cup, had it not been cancelled due to COVID-19.
For each World Cup event, there will be maximum two players per national association to ensure an exciting spread of star talent from across the globe.
LIU SHIWEN LEADS STAR-STUDDED WOMEN’S LINEUP
The Women’s World Cup will see Liu Shiwen (China) looking to add to her record-breaking five titles in the competition. Qualified thanks to her 2019 World Championship success in Budapest, the superstar also won last year’s Women’s World Cup in Chengdu to make more history in the process.
Among the players to have qualified via the continental cups, there are Dina Meshref (Egypt), who holds the record of eight Africa Cup titles; Petrissa Solja (Germany), winner of back-to-back Europe Cup titles; Sofia Polcanova (Austria), Europe’s highest-ranked female player at world no.14; Adriana Diaz (Puerto Rico), winner of back-to-back Pan America Cup titles; and Lily Zhang (USA), the 2019 ITTF Breakthrough Star and one of the standout players at last year’s Women’s World Cup in which she reached the semi-finals.
Since the Asia and Oceania Cups were unable to be held due to COVID-19, players have been selected according to world ranking with many familiar faces set to enter the action, such as Mima Ito (Japan), world no.2 and still only 19 years of age; Zhu Yuling (China), runner-up at the 2019 Women’s World Cup; Feng Tianwei, bronze medallist at last year’s event in Chengdu; and Lay Jian Fang (Australia), the highest-ranked player in Oceania.
Additionally, Bernadette Szocs (Romania) enters as the wild card, while Suthasini Sawettabut (Thailand) qualifies as the original host player, as the event got moved from Bangkok to China.
WILL MA LONG BE THE MAIN MAN?
Considered by many as the greatest table tennis player of all time, Ma Long (China) will be looking to add the 2020 Men’s World Cup to his burgeoning trophy cabinet. “The Dragon” qualifies off the back of his stunning third consecutive World Championships title, sealed last year in Budapest.
Ma is joined by world no.1, Fan Zhendong (China), who lifted the 2019 Men’s World Cup in Chengdu, as well as a number of other top Asian players to have qualified via their world ranking, such as teenage talents, Tomokazu Harimoto (Japan), world no.4 and just 16 years of age, and Lin Yun-Ju (Chinese Taipei), world no.7 and 18 years old.
Europe is providing plenty of strength, especially in the form of German pair, Timo Boll, who qualifies off the back of his 2019 Europe Cup victory, and Dimitrij Ovtcharov, the former world no.1 entering as a wild card.
Hugo Calderano (Brazil) will be keen to make a big impact following his third straight success at the Pan America Cup. Ahmed Saleh (Egypt) qualifies as this year’s Africa Cup champion, while Quadri Aruna (Nigeria) enters as runner-up in the competition. Heming Hu (Australia) will be travelling to China as Oceanis’s highest-ranked player.