(by Steve Hopkins)
We are now three days from the first day of the 2021 ITTF World Table Tennis Championships Finals and the best players in the world are arriving in Houston.
The players lists ( MEN | WOMEN ) don’t include every top player — China’s team is absent Xu Xin and Ma Long, and Germany has lost Dimitrij Ovtcharov to injury – but the rest of the big names at the top of the rankings will be there: Fan Zhendong, Harimoto, Calderano, Lin Yun-Ju, Lin Gaoyuan, Liang Jingkun, Mattias Falck, Timo Boll, Jang Woojin, Jeoung Youngsik, Patrick Franziska, and Liam Pitchford (12 of the top 15 in the latest Rankings) will all be anchoring their respective teams.
The Singles and Doubles Draws will be made during a ceremony on Sunday morning (11a Central). Singles and Doubles main rounds will begin on Wednesday. Finals for most events will occur throughout the day on Monday, November 29.
This year, each of the top 10 seeds are shakehands players (the top seeded penholder is Won Chun Ting of Hong Kong at seed No. 17).
While there is some variation in style, like Mattias Falck’s forehand pips, every seeded player could be described as a two winged attacker.
The last 8 Men’s Champions have been Chinese (Ma Long 3 times, Zhang Jike twice, Wang Hao and Wang Liqin twice). The last non-Chinese player to win was Werner Schlager in 2003, and before that (Wang Liqin and Liu Guoliang won in ’01 and ’99) it was Jan-Ove Waldner in 1997.
The dominance of China on the Women’s side is amazing – winning every singles title since 1979 except for one – Korea’s Hyun Jung Hwa’s upset win in 1993.
The United States has never hosted a World Championship before this year, and the USA has never won a Men’s Singles title. However, Ruth Aarons won three titles in a row in the 1930s, winning in 1936, 1937, and sharing the title with Austria’s Trude Pritzi in 1938.
The top seed, World No. 1 Fan Zhedong is a Butterfly Player. In fact, seeds 1 (Fan Zhendong), 2 (Tomokazu Harimoto), 4 (Lin Yun-Ju), 5 (Lin Gaoyuan), 8 (Timo Boll), and 10 (Patrick Franziska) are all Butterfly Players.
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