There were two changes in the Top 10 this week when the ITTF released their World Rankings List for February. The first is a change at the top, where Xu Xin and Fan Zhendong switched places yet again. Xu Xin, who just won the German Open, is now the top player in the world, and Fan has slid one spot to No.2. The second change is the addition of Dimitrij Ovtcharov to the Top 10. Ovtcharov passed teammate Timo Boll to take the No. 10 position, in part on the strength of his Semifinal appearance at the German Open last weekend.
The rest of the Top 10 remains unchanged with Ma Long and Lin Gaoyuan in the No. 3 and No. 4 positions and with Tomakazu Harimoto at No. 5. These rankings are important to various qualifying events leading into the Olympic games, and it is also important to note that China has five players in the Top 10 while no other country has more than one player. However, based upon these rankings Japan would field a strong team with positions No.5, No. 12, and No. 15. Also, Germany would be in a solid third position with No. 10, No. 11, and No. 14.
Seven of the Top 10 players are from Asia. The only player in the Top 10 who is not from Asia or Europe is Hugo Calderano at No. 7. The next two players in the rankings outside of Asia and Europe are Quadri Aruna at No. 18 and USA’s Kanak Jha at No. 25.
Jha’s peak came last September when he achieved No. 22. His current position is the second highest of his career. After Jha, the next highest players in North America are Canada’s Jeremy Hazin at No. 146, and three US players: Kai Zhang (No. 172), Nikhil Kumar (No. 178(, and Nicholas Tio (No. 234). The top Latin Men in the rankings are all Brazillian with Calderano, Tsuboi, and Ishiy as the top three (at No. 7, 40, and 56 respectively). Brian Afanador (No. 84) and Daniel Gonzales (No. 140) of Puerto Rico are both in the Top 12 in Latin America.
In the Women’s rankings the top three players are all unchanged. Chen Meng, Sun Yingsha and Mima Ito continue to lead the world. Japan’s Ito is the only non-Chinese player in the Top 7. The first non-Asian player in the Women’s List is Sofia Polcanova of Austria who is No. 14. The top player from outside of Asia or Europe is Puerto Rico’s Adriana Diaz at No. 20, and the second and third ranked players from outside Asia or Europe are USA’s Lily Zhang (No. 28) and Jennifer Wu (No. 30). In looking at team configurations for the Olympics, obviously China has the strongest position. After China, Japan has three players in the World’s Top 11 and is a clear second seed. Then it would be Taipei with No. 10 and 26, Hong Kong with 15 and 29, Germany with No. 19 and 27, Romania with No. 22 and 34, and the US with No 28 and 30. A lot of teams have a legitimate shot at a medal this year in Japan.
February is a busy month on the ITTF Tour with events in Spain, Portugal, and Hungary as well as regional cups: Pan Am, Europ Top 16, Africa Top 16, and Asian Cup. There is lots of opportunity for ranking changes in March.
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