Although we are already half way through February international table tennis is only just about to begin. With new tournaments to contend with and a delayed Olympic Games to look forward to, here are 6 players to look out for in 2021.


Mima Ito with her eyes on the prize - Photo via ITTF Flickr

Tomokazu Harimoto

It feels as if Harimoto has been competing at the top of world table tennis for ages. However, at 17 years old he is still a junior. The young japanese superstar has a fantastic record against the top Chinese players making him their number one rival in their quest for Olympic dominance once again in Tokyo.

With a current ranking of 5 in the world, could the fiery young player upset the Chinese and win a Gold medal at his home Olympics.

Ding Ning

The Queen of Hearts form has dropped since her sensational win at the Rio Olympics in 2016. There have been injury worries preventing her from reaching her highest level. Her world ranking has now made its way back into the top 5 in the world and she will be hoping to be selected to defend her Olympic title later in the year.

In WTT Macao she was knocked out in the quarter final by an in-form Chen Xingtong. However, she recorded a win during the Top 4 Seed Battle against the eventual winner Sun Yingsha showing she can still compete with her Chinese Team mates.

Mattias Falck

The swedish number one has been putting himself amongst the best in the world since his incredible runners up performance at the Liebherr 2019 World Championships in Budapest. He has established himself inside the top 10 in the world and has been playing with confidence in the build up to 2021.

Mattias recorded an amazing shock victory against world number 2 Xu Xin in WTT Macao after being selected by the Chinese Penholder in the draw. It took the GOAT himself, Ma Long, to end his run. The other top players will want to avoid this tricky Swede in tournaments to come.

Lily Zhang

Although Lily Zhang has a lower world ranking at number 30, she is thought by many to have potential to upset the best in events to come. Her aggressive style is great to watch and is able to compete with the best in the world.

With a continued improvement, can she step up and post more wins against top players such as her wins against Miu Hirano and Feng Tianwei?

Liam Pitchford

The English player attracts a lot of attention for his spectacular backhand and ability to raise his game when clashing with the best. Liam has posted wins against most of the top 10 players in the world, including Xu Xin, Ma Long and Tomokazu Harimoto.

We are looking forward to seeing what Liam can bring to the table during the remainder of this year.

Mima Ito

Recently down to number 3 on the latest world ranking list, Mima Ito is the highest ranked player in this list. She has lightning speed and fantastic composure in close matches. In 2020 she medalled with a bronze at the 2020 Women’s World Cup in Dishang and came home with a Gold at the 2020 ITTF Hungarian Open.

If Mima Ito peaks at the right time, could she come away with Gold at a home Olympic Games? Mima Ito will compete in Doha next month, follow all the latest info from the World Table Tennis event here.

Others to Watch

The most decorated player of all time, Ma Long, will have a chance to win back to back Olympic Games this year. A feat not yet achieved by a male player. A win in Tokyo will cement him further in many fans minds as the GOAT.

Possibly Ma Long's greatest competition is Fan Zhendong who at only 24 seems to still be improving. He recorded a sensational win against Ma Long to win his 4th Men’s World Cup title in 2020.

Finally a word for Dimitrij Ovtcharov. He has been working incredibly hard over the course of the pandemic behind closed doors and looks in absolutely electric form. One of Europe's best hopes for competing with the Asian nations, he secured a bronze medal in Rio 2016. Can he go further and get a different coloured medal this time round?


Everybody is hungry for competition having been deprived for a majority of the last 12 months. This desire is fueling the players who want to prove themselves against the best in the world. The competitions that are able to be hosted this season are sure to be exciting with so many players looking to peak and play their best table tennis.

Who would you add to the list? Let us know in the comments...

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Dec 2019
Ma Long for Olympic Gold!! This to become the only double Men's Grand Slam winner!