ITTF Celebrates 300th World Tour at Japan Open
The world's best have arrived in Japan for the 300th ITTF World Tour
The GAC Group 2015 World Tour Super Series, Japan Open in Kobe, Japan will be the 300th ITTF World Tour event, since its creation in 1996.
The ITTF World Tour revolutionized table tennis, as it gave the top players regular tournaments around the world, and a steady income from the prize money. The World Tour has gone from strength to strength in the past 19 years, and will continue to grow and develop table tennis around the world.
The Japan Open, being held on 24 - 28 June 2015 is the 11th stop of the US$3,000,000 GAC Group 2015 ITTF World Tour, with qualification rounds beginning today, 24 June 2015 at the Green Arena Kobe. The prestigious event sees participation of 167 men and women from 21 countries, all vying to be the 14thJapan Open Champion.
World number one MA Long will be making his first international appearance since becoming World Champion last month. Since the 26 year old has yet to lose a match in 2015, MA will is the hot favorite to win his 20th World Tour title here in Kobe.
The champion of the world stated: "I always enjoy coming to Japan. Despite finally winning my first World Championships, I am still hungry to win more and more World Tour titles and create the record for the most in history, which is currently held by SAMSONOV who has 26"
World number two XU Xin will be determined to put his disappointing World Championship behind him in Kobe. XU was surprisingly knocked out in the quarter finals at the World Championships held in Suzhou, China, and will be determined to add to his nine World Tour titles.
The sold out Kobe crowd will be cheering for local favourite Jun MIZUTANI to cause some upsets against more fancied opponents again to reign supreme at the Japan Open, as he did in 2012.
World number one DING Ning will be full of confidence, after her epic victory in Suzhou, where she beat LIU Shiwen in the women's singles final, despite badly injuring her ankle in the 7th game. DING is now fully recovered and looking to secure more Race to Lisbon points to book her place at the 2015 World Tour Grand Finals.
Singapore's FENG Tianwei, the Japan Open defending champion, has not yet reached the form that won her three ITTF World Tour titles in 2014. The London 2012 bronze medalist will hope that returning to the place of her 2014 success will spark her form back into life.
Both DING and FENG will be pushed to their limits by the crowd favourites, Japanese trio of Ai FUKUHARA, Kasumi ISHIKAWA and 14 year old Mima ITO, who are all currently ranked in the top 10 and have all recorded success on the 2015 World Tour.
Qualifications for the 16 remaining positions available in the main draw of 32 takes place on 24 - 25 June, with the knockout action getting underway on 26 June, and the winners being crowned on Sunday, 28 June.
The GAC Group 2015 World Tour is offering a record US$3,000,000 in prize money, and will also be the most viewed in history, with more events shown live throughout the world on television, and all the events being shown live on ITTF's live streaming platform, ITTF.com/itTV.
The Japan Open is one of six GAC Group World Tour Super Series events in 2015, which is the top tier on the World Tour. The rest of the World Tour events are split into Major series (6 events) and Challenge (11 events)
The top 16 singles and top 8 doubles pairs on the Race to Lisbon Standings will be invited to the prestigious 2015 World Tour Grand Finals to be held in Lisbon, Portugal on 10-13 December 2016.