Ovtcharov One Match Away from Top Spot on the ITTF World Ranking
Newly crowned ITTF Men's World Cup Champion Dimitrij OVTCHAROV (GER) aims take over the top spot of the ITTF World Rankings in January 2018 with a strong performance at the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals from 14-17 December 2017 in Astana, Kazakhstan.
The top seed in Astana is merely one match away from ending the reign of current World & Olympic Champion MA Long (CHN), who has been dominating the ITTF World Ranking for a consecutive 34 months. Ovtcharov will have to avenge his 2017 World Championships defeat to Japan's Koki NIWA, to win his first-round match in Astana to become the next world number one.
"It will be a life dream for me to be world number one. It almost sound unreal to see the possibility that my name would be on the top of the list. I have a fantastic year with so many victories at so many events, which gave me a lot of confidence. The draw seems to be tough as I lost to Koki at the World Championships and I will be well prepared for the match. I have met with him many times and I lost actually only that one encounter."
"I believe in my victories and strengths and I hope I can make it far the event, and this is right now my priority. I hope to make another final and the ranking comes with it."
The new ITTF World Ranking system will come into effect starting on 1 January 2018 to present a more accurate measure and realistic situation of the playing level, and to ensure that the World Ranking better supports ITTF events. More information on the new World Ranking can be found here or watch the explanation video to find out more!
All eyes will also be on current world number two FAN Zhendong (CHN), who will be eager to take home the Gold from the US$1,000,000 event in Astana without the presence of his teammate & arch-rival MA.
Having won three World Tour Platinum titles this year on the 2017 ITTF World Tour, China's CHEN Meng heads the Women's seeding into the final fight for the prestigious title.
The top seed will have a tough battle to fight towards her first World Tour Grand Finals title as she will have to fend off challenges from compatriots including reigning world number one ZHU Yuling and up-and-rising stars of the Chinese team such as two-time World Junior Champion WANG Manyu who have produced great results on the 2017 ITTF World Tour.
Japanese stars Miu HIRANO, Mima ITO and Kasumi ISHIKAWA will be going all out to challenge their Chinese counterparts and for their chance at the crown.
The Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals is the year ending finale for the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour, which features 12 events across the world in 2017. The Grand Finals will feature the top 16 male and female players, as well as the top 8 Men's & Women's Doubles pairs from the 12 World Tour events fighting for US$1,000,000 prize money in Astana, Kazakhstan from 14-17 December 2017.