Feng and Li to star in Asian Cup in Dubai

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Feng and Li to star in Asian Cup in Dubai
Olympic champion Li Xiaoxia of China and defending Asian Cup champion Feng Tianwei of Singapore will be star attraction.

Dubai - Nakheel Cup table tennis at DWTC from Thursday to Saturday

By Moni Mathews

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Published: Wed 27 Apr 2016, 7:34 PM

Last updated: Wed 27 Apr 2016, 11:39 PM

Defending Asian Cup champion, Feng Tianwei of Singapore, and Olympic singles champion, Li Xiaoxia of China, who have both booked their tickets for the Rio Olympics, will use the opportunity to assess their in-form rivals further when the Asian Cup, backed by Nakheel, gets going at the Dubai World Trade's Zabeel Hall 1, from April 28-30.
Eleven nations namely China, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, India, Iran, Japan, Korea, Qatar, Singapore, Thailand, and the UAE, represented by Abdulla Al Balooshi, Noura Almaazmi and Mayd Al Balooshi, are taking part in the continental championships.
Feng will once again be a threat to the all-conquering Chinese brigade. Having previously won silver in the 2008 Olympics team competition, bronze in both the team and singles in 2012, as well as triple gold in the 2014 Commonwealth Games, Feng is one to watch in Dubai and Rio.
Li will come to Dubai, the sponsor of the Chinese national squad, hoping to add the only title she is yet to win, the Asian Cup, to the list of gold medals she has won in Olympic, World Championships, World Cup and Asian Championships competitions. 
Xu Xin, the men's world No 3, and women's world No. 1, Liu Shiwen, who arrived in the city on Tuesday, were seen at the team practice rounds at the venue on Wednesday evening.
With the men's and women's 2012 Olympic gold medallists - Zhang Jike and Li Xiaoxia - five of the top 10 men, and four of the top 10 women all competing, the tournament  promises to be thrilling contest. With the 2016 Olympic Games just three months away, there are still openings for the rest of the best in Asia to make the trip to South America as players fight for the last ranking points available before the final Olympic list is decided.
The top 22 players in men's and women's singles on the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) rankings in May 2016 will automatically be given the nod for an Olympic spot, but only two players per country can be allocated a place in the singles event. The remaining places are decided through a series of qualification tournaments, the first of which, the ITTF Asian Olympic Qualification tournament, was held in Hong Kong from April 13-17.
India who did well in the Hong Kong qualifier will have a full four-member team in Rio. 
Olympian Soumyajit Ghosh, who triumphed in Hong Kong will be joined in the men's singles competition in Rio by Achanta Sharath Kamal, who is lining up for his third Olympics. In the women's singles India will be represented in Dubai and Rio by Manika Batra, India's top female player, and joined in Rio by Mouma Das. Manika and Mouma joined forces in March this year to score an historic win in the second division of the World Team Table Tennis Championships (WTTTC).
"We are delighted to be welcoming some of the world's best table tennis players here to Dubai. This event is an important addition to Dubai's calendar of world-class sporting events and further strengthens the emirate's position as a home for racquet sports. At the Dubai Sports Council we understand the power of sport to unite cultures and Dubai has sponsored the Chinese National Table Tennis Team since 2013 - a sign of our passion for sport as well as our strong links with China," Saeed Hareb, secretary general, Dubai Sports Council, said.

Li Xiaoxia of China reacts to winning a point during the women's singles final match against Ishikawa Kasumi of Japan at the Asian Table Tennis Qualification Tournament for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games at the Queen Elizabeth Stadium in Hong Kong on April 14, 2016. / AFP / ISAAC LAWRENCE
Li Xiaoxia of China reacts to winning a point during the women's singles final match against Ishikawa Kasumi of Japan at the Asian Table Tennis Qualification Tournament for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games at the Queen Elizabeth Stadium in Hong Kong on April 14, 2016. / AFP / ISAAC LAWRENCE

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