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Table Tennis: China’s Liu breaks Ding’s 22-month streak as World No. 1

Liu Shiwen, 22, is World No. 1 for the first time since September 2010, when she was 19. Photo: Remy Gros/ITTF.

Liu Shiwen, 22, is World No. 1 for the first time since September 2010, when she was 19. Photo: Remy Gros/ITTF.

September 6, 2013: Liu Shiwen is table tennis’s new women’s World No. 1 after knocking Chinese compatriot Ding Ning off the top spot, a position she had held for a record 22 months. Liu has been pushing Ding for 18 months, having been ranked second or third since February last year.

 

Liu first became No. 1 in January 2010 when she was 18 and held the position until September of that year. Now 22, Liu has had a fantastic 2013, making the final in five out of six events she participated in and winning two of them.

 

Liu won this year’s Asian Cup to earn a place at the upcoming Starts Women’s World Cup and she’ll start as the favorite for the prestigious event, which will be held in Japan from September 21-23.

 

Ding, 23, is now ranked second, just ahead of Olympic and World champion Li Xiaoxia and fourth-ranked Feng Tianwei of Singapore.

 

Chinese players Zhu Yuling, Guo Yan, Chen Meng and Wu Yang occupy the next four spots, while Japan’s great hope Kasumi Ishikawa has moved to ninth, which will increase home hopes of a gold at the Women’s World Cup.

 

Ma Long of China remains the men’s World No. 1 for the third consecutive month, extending his lead over compatriot Xu Xin after winning the Harmony Open in Suzhou, China. Fellow Chinese Wang Hao and Zhang Jike are third and fourth.

 

German duo Timo Boll and Dimitrij Ovtcharov maintain their respective fifth and sixth ranking, while 16-year-old Chinese prodigy Fan Zhendong moves back into the top 10 for the second time in his short career.

 

Koki Niwa of Japan moved from 18th to 13th place, while compatriot Kenta Matsudaira moved from 24th to 18th after beating top Chinese players Yan An (World No. 8) and Wang Hao (World No. 8) respectively at the Harmony Open.

 

The September ranking also confirms the rapid rise of Masato Shiono. The 27-year-old Japanese was ranked 188th before he caused a huge shock by winning this year’s Japan Open and followed it up by winning last month’s Czech Open, which helped him move to World No. 52.

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