(by Steve Hopkins)
We are only two months away from the 2021 ITTF World Table Tennis Championships Finals – and the biggest table tennis event is coming to the biggest city in the USA’s biggest State (November 23-29).
The venue is the George R. Brown Convention Center in the center of downtown Houston, Texas. The convention center is a 1.8 million square foot, modern center with flexible spaces that the ITTF, USATT, and local staff will be able to form into ideal conditions. There are hotels, restaurants, entertainment and a park within walking distance. Potentially the perfect combination of playing conditions for the world’s best and viewing conditions for an American audience that has never hosted a World Table Tennis Championship event.
There will be five individual events: Men’s Singles, Women’s Singles, and Doubles (Men’s, Women’s, Mixed). All events are knockout events, so the action starts immediately where one loss ends a player’s tournament. There are 128 Singles spots and 64 Doubles entries in the respective draws. Singles will seeded 32 players and Doubles will have 16 seeded pairs. After the seeded players are placed, the other players will be placed at random (*almost random as players from the same association are separated per other ITTF rules).
At this point, the ITTF lists 128 qualified players in Men’s Singles including Fan Zhendong, Xu Xin, and Ma Long as the top three, Harimoto as the top non-Chinese player at No. 4, Hugo Calderano as the top qualified player from outside of Asia at No. 7, Falck and Ovtcharov and Boll as the top European seeds, Kanak Jha as the top from North America.