Today, Asian teams – and especially China – dominate the World Table Tennis Championships. But the Worlds started way back in 1926 and was an all-European affair for decades. Did you know that the first Asian medal winner came in 1952, when Hiroji Satoh (JPN) won the men’s Singles title and Japanese teams won the men’s and women’s Doubles?
China dominates now and going into the 55th edition of the ITTF Worlds in Budapest (HUN), the Chinese will try to extend their streaks:
● Men’s Singles: Seven titles in a row, and seven straight All-China finals!
● Men’s Doubles: Two straight and 12 of the last 13 titles;
● Women’s Singles: 12 titles in a row as 12 straight All-China finals!
● Women’s Doubles: 15 straight titles and 15 straight All-China finals;
● Mixed Doubles: 11 titles in a row from 1991-2011, but only a half-title since.
In view of China’s overwhelming power, it is interesting to note the current top entries according to the ITTF World Rankings, with China strong in both Singles events, but strongly challenged elsewhere.
● Men’s Singles:
1. Zhendong Fan (CHN) ~ 2017 Worlds silver medalist; 2015 bronze medalist
2. Xin Xu (CHN) ~ 2013-17 Worlds bronze medalist
3. Gaoyuan Lin (CHN)
4. Tomokazu Harimoto (JPN)
5. Timo Boll (GER)
Two-time (2015-17) defending champ, and 2016 Olympic winner, Long Ma (CHN) is ranked 11th and is in the field.
● Men’s Doubles:
1. Yuya Oshima/Masataka Morizono (JPN) ~ 2018 Worlds silver medalists
2. Kwan Kit Ho/Chun Ting Wong (HKG)
3. Youngsik Jeong/Sangsu Lee (KOR) ~ 2018 Worlds bronze medalists
4. Matthias Falck/Kristian Karlsson (SWE)
5. Adam Szudi/Nandor Ecseki (HUN)
● Women’s Singles:
1. Ning Ding (CHN) ~ 2011-15-17 World Champion; 2016 Olympic Champion
2. Meng Chen (CHN)
3. Manyu Wang (CHN)
4. Shiwen Liu (CHN) ~ 2013-15 Worlds silver; 2011-17 Worlds bronze medalist
5. Kasumi Ishikawa (JPN)
● Women’s Doubles:
1. Mima Ito/Hina Hayata (JPN) ~ 2017 Worlds bronze medalists
2. Manyu Wang/Yingsha Sun (CHN)
3. Honoka Hashimoto/Hitomi Sato (JPN)
4. Meng Chen/Yuling Zhu (CHN)
5. Ho Ching Lee/Hoi Kem Doo (HKG)
● Mixed Doubles:
1. Chun Ting Wong/Hoi Kem Doo (HKG) ~ 2017 Worlds bronze medalists
2. Maharu Yoshimura/Kasumi Ishikawa (JPN) ~ 2017 Worlds Champions
3. Shiwen Liu/Xin Xu (CHN) ~ Xu: 2015 World Champion with Ha-Eun Yang (KOR)
4. Masataka Morizono/Mim Ito (JPN)
5. Jihee Jeon/Sangsu Lee (KOR)
Even though they are not ranked, watch out for the second Chinese team of stars Zhendong Fan and Ning Ding!
In terms of records, Ding is looking for her third title in a row and fourth overall. No one has won three straight since Nan Wang (CHN) in 1999-2001-2003. Four titles would put Ding third in the all-time list behind Angelica Rozeanu (ROM), who won six straight from 1950-55, and Hungarian Maria Mednyanszky, who won five in a row from 1926-31.
Qualifying rounds will be played on 21-22 April; the main draw will commence on 23 April and the playoff rounds will be on 26-27-28 April.
The ITTF has excellent coverage of the 2019 Worlds; look for results here.