September ITTF Rankings: China Sān
(by Steve Hopkins/Photo by ITTF)
In China the word for “three” is sān, and the written character is three horizontal lines. Three is among the lucky numbers in China in part due to the closeness in pronunciation to the word for life (or “to live”). In September, “three” has certainly been a lucky number for the Chinese team as they hold the No.1, No.2, and No.3 spots in the world rankings in both the Men’s and the Women’s Ranking Lists.
In the September ITTF World Rankings China’s top players, Fan Zhendong and Xu Xin, have retained their No. 1 and No. 2 positions. Twenty-three year old teammate Lin Gaoyuan, who spent much of last year in the upper 40s in the rankings before winning the Asian Cup, has now risen all the way to third.
Germany’s Timo Boll and Dimitrij Ovtcharov are in positions 4 and 5. Rounding out the rest of the top 10 are Ma Long (China), Sangsu Lee (Korea), Tomakazu Harimoto (Japan), Wong Chun Ting (Hong Kong), and Hugo Calderano (Brazil).
USA’s Kanak Jha, now ranked 70, is the top North American player on the list (Canada’s Marko Medjugorac is second at No. 212). The top African player is Quadri Aruna at No. 22. Omar Assar of Egypt is Africa’s second ranked player (and the top in the Middle East) with a World Ranking of No.22. Marcos Madriod is Mexico’s top player at 101 and Felipe Olivares is Puerto Rico’s top player at No.111.
At age 42, after fading to No. 54, Vladimir Samsonov (Belarus) finds him self back in the Top 30 in the world. And Liam Pitchford was awarded for his World Cup win over Ma Long with a jump from No. 48 up to No. 31.
The women’s listing has not changed much in September. In fact, the only change in the Top 15 is that No. 6 Ding Ning and No. 7 Ito Mima have swapped places (from 7 and 6, respectively). The women’s Top 20 continues to include 7 Chinese players (including Zhu, Liu, and Chen in the 1-3 spots), 5 Japanese, 2 Hong Kong, and one player from Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, Romania, Netherlands, and Austria.
The top European player is Sofia Polcanova of Austria at No. 17. The top North American player is Mo Zhang at No. 22 (Americans Wu Yue and Lilly Zhang are second and third highest in this region). Adriana Diaz of Puerto Rico (No. 33) is the top ranked Latin American player.
September includes a number of continental championships and junior events – exciting events that will not have large impacts on the October rankings. However, October will feature the Men’s World Cup (Paris) as well as the Swedish Open, Belgium Open, and Egypt Open, so there is opportunity for large changes to the November rankings.
The Chinese are dominant in the rankings and there is little expectation of change in the near future. In fact, Fan Zhendong and Lin Gaoyuan are ages 21 and 23 and could have a decade or more of dominance ahead of them. It is the Japanese who seem to be mounting the broadest opposition to China’s dominance. Japan’s men are currently the third ranked team in the world and they have 6 players in the Men’s Top 30 rankings including their young star Harimoto at No. 8. And the Japanese women’s team is second in the world and they have 7 in the Top 25, including Kasumi Ishikawa (age 25) and Mima Ito who has risen to No. 7 at age 17.
“San” is also a common word in Japan – as an honorific suffix given as a sign of respect. It is often applied to one’s elder or boss (or even a respected friend or rival). As Japan continues to work to improve with their next generation of young players, China continues to be the rival at the top of the rankings that is respected by the entire sport.
Visit ButterflyOnline.com for the latest news and information.
ITTF Men’s Rankings: http://results.ittf.link/index.php?option=com_fabrik&view=list&listid=69&Itemid=206