WEIHAI, China, Nov. 13 (Xinhua) -- Reigning world champion Ma Long and three-time winner Fan Zhendong are poised to start their campaign at the ITTF Men's World Cup that kicks off here on Friday.
The ITTF Men's World Cup is the second installment of the ITTF's #RESTART series following an eight-month hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Everyone can feel the difference as it's the first competition after such a long time. I look forward to stepping on the court to play," said Ma, a grand slam winner of world championship, World Cup and Olympic titles.
The defending champion Fan echoed by saying "I hope to play well in this restart competition."
Fan and Ma are quite familiar with the venue, where they met each other in the national championships final just a month ago and Fan came out the winner.
"The venue is the same, but the competition and opponents are different, thus bringing in a different feeling towards me," said Fan.
"International events attract more attention than the National Championships, and it's the first international tournament held in China since the COVID-19 outbreak. I hope to show my best form here," Ma noted.
The Chinese duo's main rivals include Japanese teenager Tomokazu Harimoto, Lin Yun-Ju of Chinese Taipei, and German veteran Dimitrij Ovtcharov.
The top eight seeds, including Ma and Fan, will directly start from the knock-out stage on Saturday, while the remaining 13 paddlers are drawn into four groups and top two finishers from each group advance to the last 16.
The ITTF Men's World Cup will run from Friday to Sunday, and the total prize money is 250,000 U.S. dollars. Enditem