April 3, 2018 / 5:50 AM / 8 months ago

Table Tennis: Fabulous Fan dethrones Boll at top of world rankings

Table Tennis - 2016 World Table Tennis Championships - Quarter-Finals - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - 4/3/16 - Fan Zhendong of China competes. REUTERS/Olivia Harris

(Reuters) - China’s Fan Zhendong has taken over the global number one spot for the first time in his career after he replaced German Timo Boll in the latest International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) world rankings released on Tuesday.

The 21-year-old Fan, who had been the world number two since Nov. 2015, claimed the Qatar Open last month to earn enough ranking points to rise to the top.

“It is an amazing feeling to become the word number one, it has always been a big dream of mine,” Fan, the 2017 world championships runner-up, said in a statement.

“I hope I can keep this position for a very long time.”

Boll, who at 36 became the oldest world number one at the start of last month, drops to number two, one place ahead of compatriot Dimitrij Ovtcharov. Fan’s compatriots Xu Xin and Lin Gaoyuan take the fourth and fifth spots respectively.

Reigning world and Olympic champion Ma Long, who slipped in the rankings due to inactivity in 2017, has moved back up to number six after winning last week’s German Open in Bremen.

China’s Chen Meng reclaimed the women’s world number one spot from compatriot Zhu Yuling after reaching the semi-finals in Qatar.

Zhu endured a difficult tournament when she was knocked out at the last-32 stage by eventual champion Liu Shiwen, whose rose from 20th to 10th this month.

Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by John O'Brien

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