by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
The top five names in the Men’s Singles event represent four continents. China’s Fan Zhendong and Chinese Taipei’s Chuang Chih-Yuan now occupy the respective top two seeded places; they are followed by Egypt’s Omar Assar and Brazil’s Hugo Calderano with Germany’s Ruwen Filus being next in the order of merit.
Furthermore, when was it ever the situation that the leading name from the old continent in an ITTF World Tour Men’s Singles event, was principally a defensive player?
I am reasonably sure that the answer with regards to the 324 tournaments completed to date, is that the situation has never happened.
Most certainly no defensive player representing a European country has ever won an ITTF World Tour Men’s Singles title. The nearest is Austria’s Chen Weixing who was beaten in the final in 2005 in Chinese Taipei by Korea’s Lee Jungwoo. The only other male defensive player to lay pretentions such a claim is Panagiotis Gionis of Greece who last your won at the ITTF Challenge Series in Zagreb. Otherwise, like Chen Weixing, successful ITTF World Men’s Singles winner have all been born and bred in Asia.
China’s Ding Song won in Kitaku-Shu in 1996 and the following year in Melbourne; also from China, Hou Yingchao succeeded in 2006 St Petersburg. In the same year Korea’s Joo Saehyuk prevailed on home soil in Jeonju, before waiting ten years to emerge victorious in 2016 in Zagreb. The one other successful defender is Japan’s Masato Shiono; in his golden year of 2013 he won in Yokohama and Olomouc.
A tough task awaits Ruwen Filus in Budapest; could the Men’s Doubles event, where her partners colleague Ricardo Walther, prove his best chance?
The pair occupies the fourth seeded position. Fellow German Patrick Franziska alongside Denmark’s Jonathan Groth are the top seeds. They are followed by Singapore’s Gao Ning and Pang Xue Jie with Belgium´s Robin Devos and Cédric Nutinck in third position.
Impressively, Ruwen Filus and Ricardo Walther, possess as good a Men’s Doubles record as any pair in the history of the ITTF World Tour, when considering a partnership comprising a defender and an attacking play.
Only once has such a combination claimed ITTF World Tour Men’s Doubles gold; in 2006 Austria’s Robert Gardos and Chen Weixing won in Santiago. Notably, Ruwen Filus and Ricardo Walther have been runners up on three occasions. The second step of the podium was their lot in 2015 in Minsk, last year it was the same outcome in New Delhi and Linz.
One step higher in Budapest; it is the goal and surely more than realistic?