SOME of the best table tennis players in the world are preparing to return to Geelong for the Seamaster 2019 ITTF World Tour Platinum Australian Open.
The tournament, one of just six Platinum Series events on the sport’s world tour, will see athletes competing for over $330,000USD in prizemoney between July 9-14 at The Arena. It comes after Geelong’s successful debut hosting the event in 2018.
The 2019 edition has attracted a stellar field featuring all the world’s top 10-ranked women and nine of the top 10 men.
Men’s No.1 Fan Zhendong and women’s No.1 Chen Meng are both on the entry list, along with reigning World and Olympic champion Ma Long, who’ll make his Australian debut.
Nicknamed “Flying Dragon” and with more than 3.5 million followers on Chinese social media platform Weibo, Ma Long has spent a record 64 months as World No.1 during a decorated career.
“This year’s Australian Open has attracted record entries and will have the strongest field ever,” ITTF Oceania general manager Barry Griffiths said.
“This is a great opportunity to watch the best players from Oceania challenge the very best in the world.”
About 200 athletes will compete to qualify for the season-finale World Tour Grand Finals and gain valuable World Ranking points in the lead-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The City of Greater Geelong is supporting the tournament via Geelong Major Events funding.
“Geelong is excited to be welcoming the stars of world table tennis back to our city for the second year in a row,” Geelong acting mayor Peter Murrihy said.
“This event is fantastic for our region, bringing thousands of spectators and a huge international TV audience.
“We look forward to showcasing Geelong as an outstanding event host and a beautiful and interesting place to visit.”
Tickets are now available at aussieopen.com.au.