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WTT Singapore Smash: Champions eager to kickstart new season

Fan Zhendong, Chen Meng remain focus on preparations against challengers who are constantly improving with each passing year

WTT Singapore Smash defending singles champions Fan Zhendong (left) and Chen Meng. (PHOTOS: Getty Images)
WTT Singapore Smash defending singles champions Fan Zhendong (left) and Chen Meng. (PHOTOS: Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — They have returned to their arena of triumph, eager to kickstart another long season of global tournaments by retaining their WTT Singapore Smash table tennis titles won last year.

Nonetheless, while both defending singles champions Fan Zhendong and Chen Meng sounded confident on taking on all comers when the main competition begins at OCBC Arena on Saturday (11 March), they are also wary of the improving standards of their challengers with each passing year.

"I do feel that the competitive levels are getting closer, but that spurs me on to prepare to be at my best - both physically and mentally - in every match," said Fan, the world No.1 men's singles player who has dominated the men's field since emerging as a 15-year-old prodigy back in 2012.

"Every win gives me confidence to press on through the busy season, so it is important to do well again in Singapore and have that momentum to carry on through the numerous tournaments for this year."

Likewise, women's singles defending champion Chen Meng, 29, believes having the right mentality in preparation is crucial to maintaining her success in the sport.

"You cannot be complacent for one second, because every opponent - regardless from Japan, South Korea, Europe, or even my own China teammates - has so many competitions to constantly hone their skills," the world No.2 said.

"Which is why it feels reassuring to be back at a place where I have won before. It gives me more comfort and confidence knowing how I can achieve success here."

On Thursday, the two Chinese paddlers took part in the singles competition draws, hours after flying into Singapore. Fan will begin his title defence against Sweden's world No.22 Anton Kallberg in the round of 64, while Chen will face Japan's world No.40 Miyu Nagasaki.

As for the Singapore contingent, Clarence Chew will take on Germany's Kilian Ort, Izaac Quek will face India's Sharath Kamal Achanta, Beh Kun Ting will play France's Can Akkuzu and Koen Pang will battle Australia's Nicholas Lum in their opening men's singles ties.

In the women's singles opening round, Zeng Jian will meet France's Yuan Jianan, Wong Xin Ru will face Hungary's Georgina Pota, while Goi Rui Xuan will play Egypt's Dina Meshref, and Zhou Jingyi will battle Japan's Miyuu Kihara.

Ticket prices for the WTT Singapore Smash main draw start from $28.

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