2020 ITTF-ATTU Asian Cup
Friday 28th – Sunday 1st March
Records on horizon
Defending hard-earned titles, China’s Fan Zhendong and Zhu Yuling head the list of invitations in the respective men’s and women’s events at the forthcoming ITTF-ATTU 2020 Asia Cup.
A three-day tournament, play commences on Friday 28th February.
Not only are Fan Zhendong and Zhu Yuling aiming to repeat their achievements; they are seeking to set new records.
Staged in Yokohama, Fan Zhendong won in 2018 and 2019; a feat also achieved by Zhu Yuling but, in addition to she also won in 2017 in Ahmedabad. Now, Fan Zhendong aims for three in a row, Zhu Yuling for four in succession.
In the men’s event, since the tournament was first staged in 1983 in Wuxi, no player has won the title in three consecutive years. Colleagues Wang Hao, Ma Long and Xu Xin are the only players to have succeeded in consecutive years.
Wang Hao won in 2005 in New Delhi and the following year in Kobe, Ma Long in 2008 in Sapporo and 2009 in Hangzhou. Impressive but the most impressive is Xu Xin, he holds the record of the double, double; he won in 2012 in Guangzhou and 2013 in Hong Kong, then later in 2015 in Jaipur and 2016 in Dubai.
Four wins for Xu Xin, the only other player to achieve the feat is Ma Long; in addition he won in 2011 in Changsha and 2014 in Wuhan. Now in 2020, like Fan Zhendong, he can set a record. Succeed and he will become the only player to win five times. The name of Ma Long appears on the entry list for this year’s event, the name of Xu Xin is absent.
In each of the men’s and women’s events, the defending champion, followed by the reigning world champion, the winner of the most recent Asian Championships then by the top nine players from the January 2020 world rankings qualify. Representatives from the regions of South Asia, South East Asia, Middle Asia and West Asia plus a “wild card” complete the list.
However, a national association may only field a maximum of two players in each of the men’s and women’s events; thus even though last September, Xu Xin emerged successful at the ITTF-ATTU 2019 Asian Championships in Yogyakarta, he is not eligible.
The exact same scenario applies in the women’s event to compatriot Sun Yingsha, the winner in Yogyakarta but the name that lines up alongside Sun Yingsha is Liu Shiwen, the 2019 World champion.
It is her record that is within the sights of Zhu Yuling, already Zhu Yuling is the only player to win three in a row; Liu Shiwen is the only one to have won four times. She won in 2010 and 2012 in Guangzhou, as well as in 2013 in Hong Kong and 2016 in Dubai.
Alongside Singapore’s Feng Tianwei who succeeded in Jaipur in 2015, Zhu Yuling and Liu Shiwen are the only previous winners on duty; Fan Zhendong and Ma Long stand alone.
Records in sight and there is one player who whatever happens cannot be caught; no player can match the number of bronze medals won by Japan’s Kasumi Ishikawa.
In 2007 in Hanoi, when only 14 years old she finished in third place, she did the same in 2013 in Hong Kong and then on the most recent three occasions in Ahmedabad and Yokohama.
The 2020 ITTF-ATTU Asia Cup is a qualification tournament for the Men’s World Cup and Women’s World Cup tournaments to be staged later in the year.