Defending champions Chen Meng and Fan Zhendong part of stellar line-up for S’pore Smash 2023
The world’s top 10 table tennis players in both the men’s and women’s singles will at the OCBC Arena for the March 7-19 Singapore Smash, organisers announced on Wednesday.
They include defending champions, men’s world No. 1 Fan Zhendong and women’s world No. 2 Chen Meng.
Women’s world No. 1 Sun Yingsha of China and fan favourites Hina Hayata (No. 5) and Mima Ito (No. 6) of Japan will also be taking part in the US$2 million (S$2.8 million) World Table Tennis event, along with Puerto Rico’s 13th-ranked Adriana Diaz and 14th-ranked Austrian Sofia Polconova.
In the men’s singles, world No. 2 Ma Long, who reached the 2022 final, will aim to go one better this time around, while fending off challenges from the likes of third-ranked compatriot Wang Chuqin, Japanese prodigy Tomokazu Harimoto (No. 4) and Brazilian world No. 5 Hugo Calderano.
Sixth-ranked Swedish player Truls Moregard, German legend Timo Boll and England’s Liam Pitchford will return to do battle as well.
In 2022, Olympic gold medallist Chen beat compatriot Wang Manyu after a hard-fought match lasting almost 1½ hours to claim the women’s singles title, while Fan edged out Ma in a dramatic seven-game affair to win the men’s crown.
Chen said: “There is a very strong field of players and I am expecting the competition to be tough, but this is what we train for and it’s a good chance for us to put this training into practice.”
“We will all be tested physically and mentally, but I’m up for the challenge and ready to give the fans a good show as I defend my title, so I hope they enjoy watching us play as well.”
Singapore will be represented in the main draw from March 11 to 19, with Zeng Jian (No. 55) and wild cards Zhou Jingyi and Wong Xin Ru taking their place in the women’s singles. In the men’s singles, Olympian Clarence Chew and 2019 SEA Games champion Koen Pang will carry the Republic’s flag. A singles qualifying competition will be held from March 7 to 9.
Spectators will also be able to catch some of the sport’s most exciting talents such as Egyptian teenager Hana Goda, who won the ITTF-Africa Cup in May 2022 to become the youngest-ever Continental Cup winner at 14 years and 167 days old.
She will be joined in the women’s event by 18-year-old Shin Yu-bin who became South Korea’s youngest ever table tennis player at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.
WTT event strategy director Stephen Duckitt previously revealed that the overall main-draw attendance at the last edition, under stricter Covid-19 protocols, was 11,000. The target for this edition is 50,000.
With restrictions lifted this time around, ticket-holders will be able to enjoy live entertainment and player engagement opportunities at the Singapore Smash Park, along with food and beverage options. A designated Singapore Smash Zone at the OCBC Square will also allow Sports Hub visitors to play the sport.
Tickets to the March 7-9 qualifying rounds start at $18 while those for the main draw from March 11-19 are priced from $28. They are available at https://ticketmaster.sg/activity/detail/23_sgsmash2023.
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