Lausanne, August 22, 2012: Rested, No members of the gold medal winning Chinese teams at the recent London Olympic Games on duty; nevertheless, there is a powerful line-up for the Harmony China Open which starts on Wednesday 22nd August, as the GAC GROUP 2012 World Tour, returns to action in Suzhou.
The names of Zhang Jike, Wang Hao and Ma Long do not appear; neither do the female names of Ding Ning, Li Xiaoxia and Guo Yue.
Germany’s Dimitrij Ovtcharov and Timo Boll, bronze medal winners in London, are both named on the entry list. They are the respective third and fifth seeds in the Men’s Singles event.
China’s Xu Xin and Ma Lin occupy the top two seeded places in the Men’s Singles draw; with compatriot and three times World champion, Wang Liqin, reserving the fourth seeded spot.
Ma Lin and Wang Liqin represent the voice of experience in the Chinese Team. Wang Liqin, now 34 years old, has won 21 Men’s Singles titles at Tour tournaments, Ma Lin, two years younger, is once place behind with 20 such crowns. Conversely, Xu Xin, 22 years old, is from the next generation; he has five such titles in his locker.
However, neither Ma Lin nor Wang Liqin has stood on the top step of the medal podium at a Tour tournament in 2012. Conversely, Xu Xin has two titles to his name in 2012. Earlier in the year in February he won in Qatar and then in May in Shanghai at the GAC GROUP 2012 ITTF World Tour China Open.
The host nation’s Chen Qi is the sixth seed, followed by Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus and Singapore’s Gao Ning. The presence of both Chen Qi and Ma Lin does add one extra ingredient of note to the five day tournament.
They form one of the very best Men’s Doubles pairings of the modern era being crowned Olympic champions in 2004 and World champions in 2007. They are the top seeds in the Men’s Doubles event in Suzhou.
In the men’s events with there is a heavy leaning towards experience; in the female events, the bias from the host nation is on youth.
Liu Shiwen, 21 years old, the winner at the ITTF Pro Tour Grand Finals in November 2011 and the winner on the GAC GROUP 2012 ITTF World Tour in both Hungary and Korea, is the no.1 Women’s Singles seed.
She lines up alongside 26 year old Fan Ying, 22 year old Li Xiaodan and the teenage duo of Zhu Yuling and Chen Meng; they are at the vanguard of Chinese aspirations in Suzhou. Fan Ying is the no.3 seed, Zhu Yuling is the no.6 seed with Chen Meng, the winner earlier this year in Qatar, being the no.7 seed. Li Xiaodan is further down the list in the 11th seeded spot.
No Chinese female London Olympians present but that is not the situation for Singapore. Feng Tianwei, who left London with two bronze medals, is the no.2 seed, with Spain’s Shen Yanfei, who was also in action at the London Olympic Games, being the no.4 seed.
Singapore’s Yu Mengyu, a player who features prominently in the Women’s Doubles pecking order, completes the top eight seeded names. In the Women’s Doubles, she partners Feng Tianwei, the duo being the second seeds with Chinese Taipei’s Cheng I-Ching and Huang Yi-Hua occupying the top seeded place in the draw.
A total prize fund of US$330,000 is on offer with the winners of the Men’s and Women’s Singles events each receiving US$33,000.
Play starts at 10.00am (local time) on Wednesday 22nd August with play in the qualification stage of the Women’s Singles event. —- ITTF/Photo: Adel Hakouz