Hangzhou to host ping pang World Cup
The 2004 Table Tennis World Cup raises its curtain on October 27 in Hangzhou, east China's Zhejiang Province.
The five-day tournament is a competition for men's and women's singles, representing the world's best in table tennis.
As the 25th men's World Cup and eighth women's World Cup, it is also the first time the men's and women's tournaments are being held in the same city.
The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), the governing body of the sport, made the decision to have men and women's paddlers play on a same day on a same court, bidding to make the competition fiercer and more attractive.
Due to the unbalanced development of men's and women's table tennis, most of the women's players are from China, leading to a lack of worldwide attention.
The problem was so big that one women's tournament was forced to be cancelled in the past eight years because no sponsor was willing to be involved.
This time in Hangzhou, more spectacular matches are to be expected as the competition grows closer.
Thirty-two players with 16 per gender will compete for the titles. The participants include defending World Cup champions, six continental champions, the world's top six players and three wild cards.
With the restriction of only three spots available for one area or country, China will have defending champion and world No 2 Ma Lin, Asian champion and world No 3 Wang Hao and world No 1 Wang Liqin in the men's tournament.
In women's play, reigning champion Wang Nan, Asian champion Niu Jianfeng and world No 1 Zhang Yining will represent China.
Other big names like Swedish veteran Jan-Ove Waldner, world No 6 Chuan Chih-Yuan of Chinese Taipei, Athens Olympic champion Rye Seung-min of South Korea, European champion Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus will post the main challenges to the Chinese men.
The man most eager to prove his strength and credibility will be China's Wang Hao, who lost the Athens Olympic gold medal to Rye. If Wang had won, it would have been the third straight Chinese Olympic table tennis sweep.
China's women's players won all 7 past World Cup titles. Their rivals in Hangzhou may come from world No 5 Kim Kyung Ah of South Korea and world No 7 Li Jiawei of Singapore.
Winner of the men's World Cup will pocket US$44,000 while women's champion gets US$28,000.