Tough Challenge from Experienced Campaigners

Lausanne – Switzerland, Dec 04: The host nation’s XU Xin and CHEN Meng are the respective top seeds in the Men’s Singles and Women’s Singles events at the $1,000,000 GAC GROUP 2012 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals, which commence in the Chinese city of Hangzhou on Thursday 6th December and conclude on Sunday 9th December.

XU Xin, 22 years old, finished the year in first place on the Men’s Singles Standings on the GAC GROUP 2012 ITTF World Tour; whilst 18 year old CHEN Meng concluded the year at the head of the counterpart Women’s Singles Standings.

Seeding is based on the concluding positions on the Standings, with players being required to have competed in a minimum five tournaments on the GAC GROUP 2012 ITTF World Tour to qualify for the singles events at the Grand Finals.

Exciting young players but both face stern opposition from names of note and seasoned campaigners; most notably from the national team colleagues.

WANG Hao, the Men’s Singles silver medallist at the three most recent Olympic Games and World champion in 2009, is the second seed followed by the man against whom he suffered defeat in the Beijing Olympic final, the vastly experienced MA Lin.

It is very much the same scenario for CHEN Meng; LIU Shiwen, the defending champion, is the second seed with DING Ning, the reigning World champion and the player who heads the Women’s World Rankings, being the fifth seed.

The major challenge for honours emanates from China but there is a strong foreign presence for the top prize of $104,000 and GS5 SUV saloon car; the reward that awaits both the Men’s and Women’s Singles winners.

Chinese Taipei’s CHUANG Chih-Yuan, crowned champion a decade ago when the Finals were staged in Stockholm in 2002, is the fourth seed in the Men’s Singles event.

He is followed by Korea’s JOO Saehyuk and Singapore’s Gao Ning. OH Sangeun and RYU Seungmin complete the top eight names.

Earlier this year GAO Ning won the Men’s Singles event at the GAC GROUP 2012 ITTF World Tour Chile Open in Santiago, whilst JOO Saehyuk, OH Sangeun and RYU Seungmin formed the Korean Men’s silver medal winning team at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Similarly, in the Women’s Singles event there are those with vast experience who may well pose problems for young pretenders.

Spain’s SHEN Yanfei, who later in the month will celebrate her 33rd birthday, is the third seed in the Women’s Singles event followed by Korea’s 35 year old KIM Kyungah. Both excelled on the GAC GROUP 2012 ITTF World Tour. SHEN Yanfei struck Women’s Singles gold in Japan and Germany, KIM Kyungah won in Spain, Chile and Brazil.

Both have previous Grand Finals experience but none can match Hong Kong’s TIE Yana, in Hangzhou she is making no less than her eleventh consecutive appearance in the Finals and is the sixth seed.

SEOK Hajung, who alongside KIM Kyungah, was on duty for Korea at the London 2012 Olympic Games in the seventh seed. The in-form Viktoria PAVLOVICH of Belarus, the newly crowned European champion, completes the leading octet.

Singapore’s GAO Ning and LI Hu are the Men’s Doubles top seeds followed by the Korea’s KIM Minseok and SEO Hyundeok. Meanwhile, Japan’s Hiroko FUJII and Misako WAKAMIYA head the Women’s Doubles seeding with Chinese Taipei’s CHENG I-Ching and HUANG Yi-Hua next in line.

CHEN Chien-An, also from Chinese Taipei, is the top seed in the Under 21 Men’s Singles competition with Iran’s Noshad ALAMIYAN, second on the list. Japan’s Kasumi ISHIKAWA, the defending champion, heads the Under 21 Women’s Singles seeding ahead of CHENG I-Ching.

A total of 20 players compete in each of the Men’s and Women’s Singles events, eight pairs contest the Men’s and Women’s Doubles events with eight players on duty in the respective Under 21 Men’s and Women’s Singles competitions.

In the doubles events, pairs must have competed as a partnership in a minimum four tournaments on the GAC GROUP 2012 ITTF World Tour; whilst in the Under 21 events, players must have participated in a minimum four events and on two continents. —- ITTF/ Photo by Adel Hakouz

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