Zhang Jike is the player of the generation for rising to the occasion on the big stage. 2015 will again be an opportunity for him to show his prowess on the table with the World Table Tennis Championships in Suzhou, China. But can Zhang Jike pull through again and win his 3rd World Individual Championships title? Who knows, it may not be a sure thing.
For the die hard fans of Zhang Jike, perhaps he is the best bet still and no doubt he will have the odds in his favour for those willing to try their luck on William hill betting, but there will be stiff competition standing in his way.
|Zhang Jike after his 2014 World Cup Victory|
Image from ITTF
2014 saw Quadri Aruna steal away 2 games from the Grand Slam Champion at the inaugural World Cup event, then in the semi-final it was Timo Boll who pushed Zhang all the way to the 7th game. Following that he narrowly overcame his teammate Ma Long in 7 in the final. So there are some potential competitors out there, but you still have to put above all others the fact that Zhang Jike still won the event.
One thing is for sure though, Zhang Jike will face the ultimate test in 2015. For the first time in his Grand Slam career he will face a new opponent in the final. At the 2011 and 2013 World Championships, the 2011 World Cup and the 2012 Olympic Games it was Wang Hao who stood between Zhang Jike and victory. But Wang Hao has retired from the Chinese National Team after a long and successful career and so it will be another challenger who will stand in his place. Should Jike make it to the final, there will be a very new and different kind of pressure facing him.
What really backs Zhang Jike is just one thing. He had been doubted before, perhaps more so than any player, but what makes him such a unique competitor is his distinct ability to fuel off the doubt and pressure placed upon him and rise above it to assert himself as the world's best player. Will 2015 place the World's crown upon Zhang Jike for a third time? The eyes of the table tennis world will surely be watching carefully upon the Grand Slam Champion as he attempts to endure the test!