Table tennis: Singapore to host inaugural $2.7m WTT Grand Smash in March

The Singapore Smash comes just three months after the Republic successfully staged the first WTT Cup Finals at the same venue on Dec 4, 2021. PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - Singapore will host the biggest table tennis tournament in World Table Tennis (WTT) history, the US$2million (S$2.7 million) Grand Smash, from March 7-20.

The inaugural Singapore Smash will feature 64 of the world's top players from each of the men's and women's singles, 24 of the best combinations from each of the men's and women's doubles, as well as 16 mixed doubles pairings at the OCBC Arena.

The main draw will take place from March 11-20, while a 64-player qualifying competition for the men's and women's singles will be held from March 7-9.

The Singapore Smash comes just three months after the Republic successfully staged the first WTT Cup Finals at the same venue on Dec 4-7. The event had a US$600,000 prize purse and featured 32 of the world's top male and female players who played in front of a sell-out crowd of 900 spectators.

WTT Cup Finals men's and women's singles champions Fan Zhendong and Sun Yingsha, who are also the respective world No. 1s currently, are expected to lead a star-studded cast in the upcoming blockbuster.

It is understood that WTT is working closely with the relevant authorities to stage the event safely in accordance with Singapore's prevailing safe management measures, possibly with a bigger capacity.

WTT managing director Matt Pound said: "Grand Smashes are our most prestigious events. Winning one will become the dream of all table tennis players, and we are excited to see who will be crowned our first-ever Smash Champions. We are grateful for the support of Sport Singapore.

"Following the success of WTT Cup Finals last December, it proved to be the perfect inaugural host, and we are looking forward to delivering another world-class event."

Sport Singapore chief executive officer Lim Teck Yin said the success of the WTT Cup Finals last year was "a strong indicator of fan interest for world class table tennis action in Singapore".

He added: "We are humbled by the confidence WTT has in Singapore as host for the inaugural WTT Grand Smash. This is a testimony of Singapore's capability and stature as a sporting destination in the region. Sport Singapore is excited to be working with WTT on this marquee event."

Singapore's world No. 9 Feng Tianwei, who reached the WTT Cup Finals women's singles quarter-finals, said: "It was a great experience and memory playing in front of home fans supporting me and I look forward to doing so again.

"The pandemic has limited playing opportunities for us athletes, so I'm grateful to those who have made these events possible, that we can continue to compete at the highest level."

The WTT is a commercial vehicle which the International Table Tennis Federation launched in 2020. It announced a new event structure that will see the total prize money on its circuit more than double to US$13 million a year.

Modelled after tennis' Grand Slams, the WTT Grand Smashes are the top tier in its pyramid of events.

There will be three other tiers under the WTT series, which include the WTT Cup Finals and the WTT Champion Series, which has four male and female events for the 32 highest-ranked paddlers.

Lower-ranked and up-and-coming players can compete in the WTT Contender series, which is split into the Star Contender and Contender competitions, which allows for more qualifiers.

Further event information will be announced over the coming weeks and fans can stay updated by visiting worldtabletennis.com and signing up for a WTT Fan account.

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