Suzhou, April 28: With the top four seeds playing in front of their home crowd, it is Chi versus the world again in the 2015 World Table Tennis Championships men’s singles event, which starts here on Tuesday.
World Nos.1-4, Chi’s Ma Long, Xu Xin, Zhang Jike and Fan Zhendong hold the table tennis world in their hands.
Ma needs to win this tourment more than anyone else. He has to translate his immense talent into results at a big tourment as he owns just one Olympic gold medal in the team event, just one doubles world championships title and one singles World Cup title.
Ma is on a 13-match winning streak in world-level events and is 43-2 since September 2014.
Xu is the 2014 Asian Games singles champion and also beat Fan 4-3 to win the fil of the 2015 Asian Cup. He became No.1 in January 2013 and has been no lower than No.2 since.
Zhang also has what it takes to win the title. There is no doubting his skill - he was the youngest player ever to win the Olympic, World Championships, World Cup Grand Slam - and he is renowned for his mental toughness in the big moments so he could be considered the favourite.
Zhang’s most recent big tourment victory came at the 2014 World Cup where he beat Ma in the fil - before kicking holes in the sponsor boards around the court in celebration and subsequently being fined his prize money - and at the 2015 World Team Cup he had four wins and one loss, to Dimitrij Ovtcharov of Germany.
The 18-year-old Fan announced his arrival to Chi’s tiol team with a strong performance at the 2012 Chinese tiol Championships. He then went on to win the singles and men’s doubles title at the 2014 edition, beating Ma in the singles fil and the Ma and Zhang combition in the doubles fil.
If there is a player who could upset the Chinese players’ march to the semi-fils, it could be Jun Mizutani of Japan, but the 25-year-old would have to beat Zhang in the semi-fil, something he has never done before at the highest level. IANS