By now most people already agree Asians, Chinese in particular have a knack for table tennis and excel the most in the game. However, even the best players take quite a while before reaching the highest of highs.
Fan Zhendong on the other hand decided to do one better by achieving so much at such a little age. He currently holds the record as the Youngest ITTF world tour champion and the youngest world table tennis champion and he is only 22 years of age.
One can only imagine how much impact he could still make in his career. Until then, let’s take a look at the life of this young world number one.
On January 22, 1997, Guangzhou, Guangdong China welcomed Fan Zhendong into the world. He is 23 years today and for someone who has achieved so much at such a tender age, it makes perfect sense that he started playing at an early age. Mastering the art of table tennis is much easier when starting young, using tips like you can find at Pong Place.
Coaches and Evolution of Style of Play
When one stands on the shoulder of giants, then they definitely see further. Fan Zhendong might be young and successful and it looks to everyone that it is all his own doing through determination and hardwork.
Yea he does alright on those aspects, however, he has had the luxury of tapping into the minds of greats like Wang Hao and Ma Lin. He has been coached by them and their tutelage has definitely helped him model his game properly.
Fan Zhendong plays with a right hand shakehand-grip technique which is highly reliant on using explosive footwork and aggressive forehand loops to continuously attack his opponents. A particular style of play that has been compared on multiple occasions to Ma Long’s playing style.
Fan Zhendong broke into his National team at the age of 16 in 2012. The same Chinese side that boasted of multiple living legends. Playing side by side with these players made them both players and coaches to him at the same time and this has greatly modeled his game to sharpen up his fearlessness and technique.
Defeats and Major Career Setbacks
Fan Zhendong is definitely experiencing an upward trend or perhaps trajectory in his early career. The growth can be somewhat described as rapid, fast or explosive.
In the early stages of his career, one could say he is definitely winning all the major games and challenges. Yet, he’s also had defeats and Setbacks in that short time.
After breaking out in 2012, he was nominated for the Men’s competition at the 2013 world championships. He made it to the round of 32 but lost to Zhang Jike.
A series of wins followed this up closely not until he met another great Chinese player in Ma Long at the semi finals of the World championships. He got his acts together and went on to win bronze at this same competition.
Moving ahead, losing to Ma Long once again at the World Cup finals began to raise speculations about whether Ma Long might just be Fan’s undoing. He just keeps defeating him!
However, not for long as he defeated Ma Long to claim his third straight ITTF men’s World Cup title.
Apart from career losses, he’s also had to deal with some issues with the authorities himself. In 2017, he had to pay a fine of about 20,000 dollars for boycotting some competitions.
Apart from these minor issues, Fan Zhendong is well on his way to a flying start as a table tennis great.
Major Career Highlights
I don’t know about you, but we think almost everything Fan Zhendong has achieved are major highlights. I mean, at that age? It’s exceptional.
Nonetheless, some moments, events, wins, and titles represent career defining moments that announced him to the world. Let’s take a brief look at them.
- Appearing on the world rankings for the very first time in 2012 by winning all four titles (singles, doubles, mixed, team) at the youth world championships
- Making the 2013 men’s team for the world championships
- Making the round of 32 at the 2013 world championships
- Winning the gold medal with the team at the 2016 Olympic Games
- Defeating Xu Xin at the World Cup finals in 2016
- Winning the world championships with the team in 2016
- Winning the gold medal in the singles category of the grand finals at the 2017 China opens
- Ranking number one on the ITTF world rankings for the first time after winning the Qatar Open in 2018
Saying the sky’s the limit for Fan Zhendong doesn’t do justice to how much potential this young professional has to go far in table tennis. The sky is just the beginning.
Having started out breaking breathtaking grounds at such an early age, one can only imagine how much he’ll achieve in his career.
When Guangzhou, Guangdong China welcomed Fan Zhendong to the world on January 22, 1996, I bet they wouldn’t have imagined what greatness awaits him. The hound world number one has more things to win and he has started already.