FAN Zhendong of china the One to Beat at First

Kuwait City, Kuwait, Feb 11, 2014: The first Super Series event, the highest and most prestigious tier of the GAC Group 2014 ITTF World Tour, is set to get underway this week in Kuwait City, Kuwait.

The qualification at the Kuwait Open starts tomorrow, 12 February 2014, while the main knockout draw starts on Friday, 14 February 2014.

219 of the world’s best table tennis players will line up in Kuwait, many of them competing in their first international competition of the season, after a grueling 2013.

17-year-old FAN Zhendong (CHN), who took the world by storm in 2013 by becoming the youngest ever winner of an ITTF World Tour event at the age of 16, will be the number one seed and favourite in the men’s singles.

“Last year when I played in the Polish and German Open (FAN won both these events), it was one of my first events on the senior circuit, and I was considered the underdog with nothing to lose and giving it my best shot” stated the 2012 World Junior Champion.

This year more people know me so I definitely have to play better in order to improve myself. My goal for the 2014 World Tour is to play to win, starting from the Kuwait Open,” concluded FAN, who is still actually eligible for the 2014 Nanjing Youth Olympic Games.

Marcos FREITAS (POR), who won the DHS 2014 Europe Cup last weekend, will love to get a chance to play FAN, after stating that his next goal was the defeat the Chinese players.

The 2010 and 2013 Kuwait Open champion and world number one LIU Shiwen (CHN) will be the one to watch in the women’s singles event, after an overwhelming 2013 where she won both the Women’s World Cup and the World Tour Grand Final.

“All the opponents here are very strong, and I will have to take it one step at a time, focusing on my own play” stated the 23 year old.

“It’s a new year so I don’t have any extra pressure. I would like to use the GAC Group World Tour to improve my game and mentality, as preparation for the 2014 World Championships.”

In addition to the men’s and women’s singles, the players in Kuwait are also battling it out for the men’s and women’s doubles gold medals and the men’s and women’s under-21 crowns at the Kuwait Open.

The GAC Group 2014 ITTF World Tour consists of 22 events in 22 countries, with the world’s best table tennis players battling out for a record USD 2,739,700 of prize money and entry to the World Tour Grand Final later in the year.

The World Tour is separated into three tiers (highest first): Super (6 events), Major (5 events), Challenge (11 events). The higher the series, the more prize money, World ranking points, World Tour ranking points and higher quality of competition on offer. —- Photo by ITTF

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