Top Players Convene this Week for Singapore Smash - Butterfly Table Tennis
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2020 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals: Fan Zhendong and Ma Long

Top Players Convene this Week for Singapore Smash

(by Steve Hopkins)

Nine of the World’s Top 10 ranked men (and all of the Women’s Top 10) headline a massive event this week in Singapore.  The Singapore Smash started March 7 for qualifying rounds, and the main draw will run from Saturday (March 12) through Sunday (March 20). The reason for such a long event? – There are 64 players in each draw (32 teams in Men’s and Women’s Doubles events), so the event is as large as any major tour event. Men’s Singles, Women’s Singles, Men’s Doubles, Women’s Doubles, and Mixed Doubles will all be played throughout the week with Finals next weekend.

Early action saw Jonghoon Lim of Korea, Joao Geraldo of Portugal, Benedek Olah of Finland, Liao Cheng-Ting of Singapore, Ricardo Walther of Germany, Chen Chien-An of Singapore, Shunsuke Togami of Japan, and Xiang Peng of China fight through the qualifiers to reach the Main Draw.  Other players in the Qualifiers who didn’t make it out included Marcos Madrid who was 1-1, Eric Jouti of Brazil who fell in a close match to Olah 3-2, Jeremy Hazin of Canada who lost 3-2 to Thakkar of India, Alexandre Cassin (a French player who has been tearing up the German Leagues this year) who fell to Albert Mino, and Brian Afanador of Puerto Rico who fell to India’s Desai 3-1.

After the top seeds were placed, others were placed by random drawing.  The top two seeds are pretty straight forward, therefore, with Fan Zhendong facing Tiago Apolonia, and Ma Long facing Marcos Freitas (each on opposite sides of the draw).  There should be some great matches to watch like Kanak Jha facing Tomokazu Harimoto Saturday at 7:40p local time (6:40am Eastern).  And there are some interesting potential match-ups.  Hugo Calderano and Truls Moregard could face each other in the Round of 16.  And Chinese qualifier Xiang Peng could provide an early Round of 16 challenge to Harimoto – Peng defeated Liang Jingkun a few weeks ago in Muscat.  Euro 16 Champion Darko Jorgic would have a tough path with matches that could include Togami of Japan then Lin Shidong, then Ling Yun-Ju in the Round of 16.  Ma Long has Wang Chuqin on a collision course for the Round of 16. Actually, Wang Chuqin faces former European Champion Mattias Falck in the first round and likely has Liam Pitchford in the second round before reaching that potential Round of 16 match against Ma Long (that is, Wang Chuqin could have to defeat two World Top 15 players just to get to World No. 2).  Timo Boll is to face Lin Gaoyuan in the Round of 16 if both advance, and Xu Xin would face Jang Woojin in the Round of 16 (if Woojin can get past Patrick Franziska).

Top Women’s Seed Sun Yingsha will face Sabine Winter on Friday, and second seeded Chen Meng will face Hitomi Sato on Saturday.  USA’s Lily Zhang will face Kasumi Ishikawa on Saturday, Puerto Rico’s Adriana Diaz will face Mateja Jeger on Friday, Canada’s Mo Zhang will play Manika Batra on Saturday, and Puerto Rico’s Melanie Diaz will face off against Zeng Jian on Saturday.

Lots of action on tap for the weekend – and more daily all week long.

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