(by Steve Hopkins/Photo by ITTF)
Without much movement in the rankings thus far in 2019, events so far in April should cause some real movement in May. At this point, however, the rankings are holding with very little change. The top 5 players are unchanged. Sangsu Lee and Hugo Calderaono (now Nos. 6/7) swapped places from last month. And Liang Jingkun has jumped over a few players to enter the top 10 at No. 9.
Kanak Jha has jumped 10 spaces, moving up to No. 38. Jha made it to the Round of 16 in Oman last month, and continues to achieve personal bests with each notch up the rankings ladder. After Kanak, the best players in North America are Eugene Wang (211), Marko Medjugorac (223), and Nikhil Kumar (241). The top three players in Latin America are all Brazillian (Calderano, Tsuboi, and Jouti).
The saying is that April comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. The “lion” to watch in the world rankings is Ma Long. Now healed from a series of injuries, he has already logged two finals appearances on the tour in April. Last week, he completed a series of upsets in a dominating performance to win in Qatar, and this week he upset higher players twice on his way to a finals loss to World No. 1 Zhendong. Ma Long, who entered this month at World No. 11, should see himself in the Top 6 in a few weeks when the May rankings are released.
The women’s rankings have had very few changes at the top. The biggest change is that Japan’s Kasumi Ishikawa has dropped from 4 to 6, and the result is that the top five players are all Chinese. Japan still has five players in the top 15, but the biggest movement in the rankings is China’s He Zhoujia who moved from No. 31 all the way up to No. 18. She advanced all the way to the Quarterfinals in Qatar and seem poised to continue to rise – yet another strong player for the already dominant Chinese team.
The top three in North America are Mo Zhang of Canada (25) and Jennifer Wu (44) and Lily Zhang (72) of the US. Adriana Diaz of Puerto Rico continues to top the Latin American list (World No. 31), and Bruna Takahashi of Brazil is second (at No. 64).
The biggest events on the horizon are the China Open in May, the Hong Kong and Japan Opens in June, and the Korea and Australian Opens in July. Check in with ButterflyOnline.com each month as we follow the top world and local players as they move up the World Rankings list.