China is the country that most often dominates the sport of table tennis.
The Chinese men’s team holds by far the most world team championship titles and table tennis is actually the most popular sport in China, especially when it comes to the Olympic Games or the ITTF World Table Tennis Championship.
Xu Xin is one of the select players who have completed all the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Grand Slams in their careers. Here are some of the most important and interesting things to know about this Chinese entertainer.
Xu Xin: a Brief Introduction
Xu Xin is a Chinese professional table tennis player who is ranked world No. 2 for men’s singles by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), as of April 2020. He has won 17 World Tour Singles titles and has won the World Championships in mixed doubles twice, men’s doubles 3 times, and he has been part of the team event five times.
Also, Xu Xin joined Ma Long and Zhang Jike in winning the men’s team gold medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. During Rio 2016, Xin really came into his own as a team player. Born in Jiangsu, China in 1990, Xu Xin started playing table tennis when he was only five years old. He trained during primary school and was admitted to the Jiangsu Provincial Sports School at age 10.
Shortly afterward, he trained under the guidance of coach Tang Zhixian in Shanghai. In 2007 at the age of 17, Xu joined the Chinese National Team. He has regularly demonstrated his table tennis dominance by winning gold in men’s singles at the 2013 World Cup and gold at the 2015 World Championships in doubles and mixed doubles.
Since he first obtained his world no. 1 status in January 2013, Xu managed to stay within the top three rankings through January 2016. Xu has been consistently ranked as world no. 1 at various times since the beginning of January 2013.
Xu Xin’s Equipment
Xu Xin is a penhold grip player. His long arms and frame let him move quickly and reach widely around the table. This lets him execute graceful and unique forehand loop shots. He also uses the reverse pen-hold backhand grip (RPB), a recent development for many of China’s penholders, and this allows for a two-winged attack. He still uses his traditional pen-hold backhand to lob and push the ball around with the forehand side of his paddle.
He plays regularly in the China Superleague and his equipment is a constant companion. Xin uses a custom blade with N301 top ply and a 290 style Stiga handle. The paddle has blue and white stripes and a carbon layer made using coal-grey dyed wood.
The blade has a unique metal tag, which lists the blade name and “Made in Sweden” text using a silver-on-baby blue color scheme. A high-quality blue and yellow metal tag with the text “Handmade in Sweden by Stiga” is found on the bottom of the handle. The blade offers a visually appealing mix of classic and modern looks.
Xu Xin is one of the few pen-hold grip players still left in China, especially among the younger generation who have mostly turned into shake-hand players. Some other prominent pen-hold champions from the past include famous players such as Wang Hao and Ma Lin.
Xu Xin’s main strength in the game of table tennis is his shot variation and rapid forehand loops, often stepping very deep into his backhand corner to use his forehand. He sets these shots up with his extremely deceptive and spinny serves, and he possesses some of the best footwork in the game of table tennis.
He is also something of a crowd entertainer, because he often plays wild, and sometimes inappropriate, shots. He has been called the “showman” quite often. This is perhaps due to his playful nature and confidence in playing. He has admitted that he hopes to try to be more efficient and effective with his shot selection as he matures and starts carrying more responsibility in the Chinese national team.
Xu Xin’s Stats
In 2013, Xu Xin reached the No. 1 position in the World Rankings after he won the ITTF World Tour Grand Finals in December 2012. Since then, he has won many medals in international competitions such as the World Table Tennis Championships (WTTC), and there have been all kinds of victories over the years in both singles and doubles competitions. Due to his prolific style, he has by now become respected as one of the best ping pong players of all time.
Xu Xin’s Height
Xu Xin has an impressive reach around the table and he is able to return the kinds of shots that other players often struggle with. He is reasonably tall for a table tennis player at 5’11”, or about 180 centimeters. He weighs about 165 pounds and he stands as a real presence around the table. Like many of the other Chinese players, his eye color is black and his hair is black.
Xu Xin’s Net Worth
The estimated net worth of Xu Xin for the year 2020 is $3 million. His main source of income is table tennis, so he tries as hard as possible to make as much money as he can from the game. Xin is still young and he has been very successful in improving his standard of living based on his earnings from the game. In addition, he has earned a number of endorsement deals with various brands.
This means that he receives equipment and extra money from all of his sponsors. As an integral part of the Chinese national team, he also receives large sums of money from the Chinese government for a wide variety of uses. Although his net worth is extremely healthy, it took a bit of a hit a few years ago.
In the Chengdu Seamaster Championship in June 2017, the world’s top three table tennis players (Ma Long, Xu Xin and Fan Zhendong) each refused to play their Round of 16 matches after their coach, Liu Guoliang was promoted to vice president.
The International Table Tennis Federation gave each player a $20,000 fine for breaching ITTF rules stating “players must do their utmost to win a match and shall not withdraw except for reasons of illness or injury.” The fine was levied in lieu of harsher sanctions, like suspension, after taking into account Xin’s public statements about his inspiration for the protest after his coach’s apparent demotion.
By abstaining from the Chengdu competition, Xin lost the chance to earn a big chunk of the prize money. Then, all three players also did not attend the next week’s scheduled tournament in Australia’s Gold Coast because the Chinese Table Tennis Administration did not allow it. The players, the administration said, were “too tired.” By not attending the tournament in Australia, the team lost out on another $220,000.
The Chinese Sports Administration published a post in “resolute opposition” to the players, which also attacked the player’s patriotism and love of country. The next day saw the Chinese Table Tennis Association publish a note denouncing the players and explaining a connection between the women’s coach’s scandal and the men’s coach’s move.
That connection was previously not explicit. The players themselves published an apology, claiming they had boycotted “on impulse,” but it was something that really damaged the team’s positive social image.
Due to his spectacular performances and showman-like qualities, Xu Xin has earned the nickname of “XUperman”, as a way to describe his almost-superhuman play and because of his many “superman-like” moments. This nickname is one of many, with the others being “the Showman” and “the Cloudwalker” All of these monikers are extremely descriptive of his unique playing style. Check out some of these incredible shots by this entertaining player!
Some Highlights of Xu Xin’s Career
In January 2013, Xu Xin reached the No. 1 spot in the World Rankings by winning the ITTF World Tour Grand Finals in December 2012. In January 2014, Xu Xin defended his title by beating world No. 1 ranked Ma Long in the final match of the 2013 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals held in Dubai.
In 2016, Xu Xin defeated world No. 1 ranked Ma Long 4–2 in the semi-finals match of the 2016 Japan Open, but then was beaten by world No. 2 ranked Fan Zhendong in the finals. One week later after the Japan Open, Xu Xin won his third Korea Open title after beating Ma Long again 4–3 in the finals.
In late 2017, he had a disappointing German Open, where Xu and his doubles partner Fan Zhendong were knocked out in the Round of 16, and then he lost in the quarterfinals to Lee Sangsu 4–0 in the singles event. In the Swedish Open, he won the doubles event with Fan Zhendong. Then he was vs Fan Zhendong, the world No. 2, one hour later in the Men’s Singles event, which he won by a score of 4–1.
At the 2017 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals, he lost to 3rd seed Fan Zhendong in the quarterfinals. In 2018, he participated with teammates Ma Long, Lin Gaoyuan, Fan Zhendong, and Yu Ziyang in the 2018 ITTF Team World Cup, when they overcame Japan in the final. During the tournament, Xu only dropped one set.
One week later at the German Open, Xu was seeded third but lost to fifth-seeded Ma Long in the final. However, Xu Xin partnered with Ma Long to claim his second doubles title of the year by defeating Jeong Young-Sik and Lee Sang-Su in the final. The next month, Xu Xin was a part of the winning team China at the 2018 World Team Table Tennis Championships in his tenth appearance at the World Championships.
At the China Open, Xu Xin was looking for his first World Tour title of the year. However, he was foiled in his home country by Lim Jong-hoon in the Round of 32. At the next World Tour platinum event, the Korea Open, Xu Xin was seeded 3rd but lost in the Round of 16 to Jang Woo-jin.
Xu Xin claimed the title at the Australian Open beating qualifier Liu Dingshuo in the final. Right after that, Xu Xin won the Bulgaria Open beating Japan’s Kenta Matsudaira in the final. He won his third men’s doubles titles with Ma Long at the Bulgarian Open, their second title as a pair in 2018. Because of his lack of participation in the Asian Cup earlier that year, Xu Xin did not participate in the 2018 ITTF Men’s World Cup.
Due to his appearance in five finals and claiming two of the titles, Xu Xin was seeded first in the 2018 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals, followed closely by Fan Zhendong, Ma Long, and Liang Jingkun. Xu Xin ended up losing to Lin Gaoyuan in the quarterfinals, 4–2. Xu Xin started off in 2019 at the Hungarian Open where he reached the semifinals, but he lost to the eventual champion Lin Gaoyuan.
At the Qatar Open, Xu Xin faced off against his old rival Ma Long in the semifinal stage. Ma Long had just returned from injury and was making his first appearance on the ITTF World Tour many months before. In a highly anticipated match, Xu Xin lost to eventual champion Ma Long.
Heading in as the number 2 seed at the 2019 ITTF World Table Tennis Championships, Xu Xin was looking to prove himself again. He participated in the men’s singles and mixed doubles with Liu Shiwen. In the men’s singles final, Xu Xin defeated Lin Yun-Ju.
He also claimed doubles titles with Fan Zhendong and Zhu Yuling. His performance at the Japan Open was enough to place him again at number one in the world. He replaced Fan Zhendong from the position, who had previously held the spot for over a year.
Some Minor Controversies
Many of the Chinese players have expressed their dislike of many ITTF events being played one after the other, with no real breaks in between. After the final at the 2018 Australian Open, the Chinese authorities maintained that all competitions must go ahead as planned in order to maintain the higher world rankings for all of the Chinese players, and this was all in preparation for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
At the 2019 Chinese National Championships, Xu Xin and four of his other prominent colleagues, Ma Long, Fan Zhendong, Liu Shiwen, and Ding Ning all pulled out of the competition. They wanted to rest after they had just played several events back to back on the ITTF World Tour, including many games in the Asian Championships and full matches on several consecutive days.
Regardless of all of these controversial events, Xu Xin still ended the year as World No. 1, and this just goes to show the amount of resilience he has demonstrated as a player and as a human being.
Looking to the Future
As a potential history maker, Xu Xin could do very well indeed at the Tokyo Olympics. He does admit to thinking a great deal about the upcoming Olympic Games and he makes no secret of the fact that he would love to put in a really good showing as a Chinese national athlete.
As many athletes have experienced over the past few years, he has had a fairly lengthy spell away from competitive table tennis action, and this means he will now have to get used to something of a new order in the world of table tennis.
Although he is still very rich and powerful in the sport, there are currently plenty of players who are trying to capture those big victories for themselves, such as Tomokazu Harimoto, Wang Chuqin, Timo Boll, and Dimitrij Ovtcharov, as well as even veteran players such as Jun Mizutani.