World Ranking: Tomokazu Harimoto, again captures the imagination - Butterfly Table Tennis
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World Ranking: Tomokazu Harimoto, again captures the imagination

(by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor)

Ma Long versus Fan Zhendong, the Men’s Singles final at the Liebherr 2017 World Championships will live long in the memory, the former gaining the decision in dramatic fashion.

The two stars retain their respective top two places on the Men’s World Rankings issued following the close of proceedings on Monday 5th June in Düsseldorf.

It is now the 58th occasion when the lists have been published that the name of Ma Long has headed order of merit; he first ascended to the pinnacle in January 2010.

Furthermore, it is the 28th publication in succession, since once again ascending to the heights in March 2015; that has seen his name leading the field.

The names of Ma Long and Fan Zhendong may well have been on the tips of the tongue on the concluding day of action in Düsseldorf but on the immediate previous six days it was that of Japan’s 13 year old Tomokazu Harimoto. He excelled all expectations to reach the Men’s Singles quarter-finals before China’s Xu Xin ended the dream.

Notably he moves from no.69 to no.59 on the Men’s World Rankings and unless someone can magic facts and figures to the contrary, he is the youngest male player to gain a top 50 ranking. It is a career high for the teenager, his previous best being no.61, earlier this year in April.

Major progress and new heights for Tomokazu Harimoto, it is notably the same for Japan’s Koki Niwa and Korea’s Lee Sangsu, the bronze medallist in Düsseldorf. Lee Sangsu moves from no.20 to no.13; Koki Niwa from no.11 to no.9. Notably, Lee Sangsu reached no.14 last year in May and December; Koki Niwa was also in the no.11 spot in May, June and August 2015.

Similarly, amongst the leading names, it is new horizons for China’s Lin Gaoyuan and Frenchman Tristan Flore. A previous best of no.32 in December 2011, Lin Gaoyuan moves from no.40 to no.29; Tristan Flore from no.87 to no.50, the prior best for Tristan Flore being no.66 in August 2016.

Likewise, lower down order, a further Frenchman reaches new heights. Quentin Robinot advances from no.92 to no.75 his prior high being no.82 in earlier this year in March and April. Also, it is the same situation for Romania’s Hunor Szocs, Chinese Taipei’s Liao Cheng-Ting, India’s Harmeet Desai and Japan’s Yuto Kizukuri.

Hunor Szocs, climbs from a prior best of no.82 to no.66; likewise Harmeet Desai, one month ago at a new high of no.95 is now at no.81.

However, neither can match the progress of Liao Cheng-Ting or Japan’s Yuto Kizukuri. Formerly at no.100, Liao Cheng-Ting is now at no.72, the previous best being no.91 two months ago in April; Yuto Kizukuri advances from a previous high of no.126, a position he also held in November 2016, to occupy the no.97 spot

New heights; for Brazil’s Hugo Calderano and Denmark’s Jonathan Groth, previous best rankings are equalled. Hugo Calderano moves from no.25 to no.17, a position he reached in February 2016, Jonathan Groth from no.42 to no.27, the place he occupied in last year in September.

Climbing the ladder and there are more notable names who make climb the Men’s World Rankings. Panagiotis Gionis of Greece moves from 42 to no.27, Romania’s Ovidiu Ionescu from no.74 to no.59 and DPR Korea’s Pak Sin Hyok from no.94 to no.83.

Similarly, within the top one hundred names, Austrai’a Daniel Habesohn advances from no.113 to no.93, Brazil’s Gustovo Tsuboi from no.104 to no.94.

Meanwhile, at the top of the listings, as the previous month, China’s Xu Xin and Zhang Jike are next in line to Fan Zhendong, as in May; a situation that applies to the next names. Germany’s Domitrij Ovtcharon remains at no.5 with Japan’s Jun Mizutani, Hong Kong’s Wong Chun Ting and Timo Boll also from Germany completing the top eight names.

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