Competition in race to Dubai heats up at the German Open
The third last GAC Group 2013 ITTF World Tour event of the year begins tomorrow. Part of the top-tier Super Series, the German Open will be held in Berlin, Germany. A record field of 384 players, of which an astonishing 44 of them have previously won a Wo
The third last GAC Group 2013 ITTF World Tour event of the year begins tomorrow. Part of the top-tier Super Series, the German Open will be held in Berlin, Germany. A record field of 384 players, of which an astonishing 44 of them have previously won a World Tour event, have made the trip to Berlin from 41 countries. All of them are fighting for the 16 men’s and 16 women’s singles positions at the 1-million-dollar GAC Group World Tour Grand Finals, to be held 9-12 January 2013 in Dubai.
World and Olympic Champion ZHANG Jike (CHN), listed in fourth place on the men’s singles World Tour standings and already secured a place in Dubai, is making his return to international table tennis here at the German Open.
The 25-year-old has not played internationally since he pulled out in the quarterfinals of the China Open in June 2013 through injury, and had also missed last month’s Men’s World Cup.
Despite the grand slam champion making his long awaited comeback, most of the attention in Berlin’s Max-Schmeling-Halle will be on the defending champion and local hero Dimtrij OVTCHAROV (GER).
OVTCHAROV, who recently became European Champion for the first time, is currently 12th on the World Tour singles standings, and needs a strong performance to secure his qualification into the World Tour Grand Finals.
At the pre-event press conference on 12 November 2013, the 2012 Olympic Games and 2013 Men’s World Cup bronze medalist stated: “After winning the German Open in 2012 against Timo BOLL in the final, I am desperate to do it again. Berlin is a great city, and I have many friends here, so I am looking forward to the event.”
“I am glad ZHANG Jike is playing, as I think I am getting closer to the level of the Chinese, and I love the challenge against the best,” added OVTCHAROV, who this month became the highest world-ranked European player.
Fellow 2012 Olympic Games bronze medalist FENG Tianwei (SIN) is the women’s number one seed and favourite to win her second World Tour title of 2013. The Singaporean is currently 9th on the women’s singles World Tour standings, and has already met the criteria to qualify for Dubai.
Second seed Kasumi ISHIKAWA (JPN), who is standing in 10th position, will be looking to regain her form after a disappointing 2013 in addition to qualifying for Dubai.
Spain’s SHEN Yanfei and Hong Kong’s JIANG Huajun are the respective third and fourth seeds, followed by Japan’s Ai FUKUHARA and Belarus’s Viktoria PAVLOVICH.
The world’s best table tennis players 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 German Open.
The action begins tomorrow, 13 November, with 2 days of qualification to determine which players will join the 32 seeded players in the main 64-player knockout draw which begins Friday 15 November 2013.
The final two GAC Group 2013 World Tour events in the race to Dubai are: GAC Group ITTF World Tour, Major Series, Russian Open: Ekaterinburg, Russia – 20-24 November 2013 GAC Group ITTF World Tour, Major Series, Swedish Open: Stockholm, SWE – 27 November – 1 December 2013.