Zhang Jike

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Zhang Jike
Zhang Jike 03.JPG
Personal information
Native name 张继科
Nationality Chinese
Born (1988-02-16) February 16, 1988 (age 26)[1]
Qingdao, Shandong, China
Playing style Right-handed, shakehand grip
Highest ranking 1 (June 2012)[2]
Current ranking 4
Height 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)
Weight 72 kg (159 lb)
This is a Chinese name; the family name is Zhang.

Zhang Jike (simplified Chinese: 张继科; traditional Chinese: 張繼科; pinyin: Zhāng Jìkē; born 16 February 1988) is a Chinese table tennis player.[1][3] He was named after the Brazilian soccer player Zico[citation needed].

Zhang Jike is the reigning World and Olympic champion in singles. When he won the Olympic gold medal in singles,[4] he became the fourth male player in the history of table tennis to achieve a career grand slam. The others are Jan-Ove Waldner (in 1992), Liu Guoliang (in 1999) and Kong Linghui (in 2000).[5] Zhang, however, is the only one of the four who have been the reigning champion in all three competitions simultaneously. As he won consecutively first in WTTC 2011, then World Cup 2011, and then London Olympics 2012, he won the grand slam in only 445 days after his first major title, being the fastest player ever to do so.

Equipment and playing style[edit]

Zhang Jike is a Butterfly sponsored athlete. He uses a Butterfly Viscaria FL for his blade, a Butterfly Tenergy 64 on his backhand (red), and National DHS Hurricane 3 NEO blue sponge rubber on his forehand (black).

Although there is a Butterfly blade named after him, the Zhang Jike ALC, and a series of Zhang Jike blades, he is still using the Viscaria as of August 2014.

Zhang Jike is a two-winged shakehand attacker, using a combination of quick topspin drive attacks, counters, and loops. He is primarily a speed-oriented player, using the harder blue sponge H3 for maximum drive. He stays very low to the ground and is exceptionally quick on his feet. He uses a backhand favored grip and does not change his grip for forehand shots. Among all the Chinese National team players, he is known for having the best backhand technique, often using it in the forehand corner, especially when returning heavy under-spin serves and pushes. His backhand on-the-table flick is widely regarded as one of the best in the world.

Zhang's serves are unpredictable and quite deceptive. His most famous serve is probably the reverse-pendulum short serve into both corners of the table. The side-spin on the serve, together with his deadly backhand flicks, lightning footwork and top-class anticipation has proven to be a frightening combination as he "opens up" top spin rallies to his advantage.

It is noticeable that he would play with a backhand oriented gameplan against big forehand loopers like Ma Long or Fan Zhendong. He would keep his opponents in their backhand corner and go for down-the-line blocking winners as the opposition steps around to use a forehand loop, or just simply use his superior control to pile up pressure on the opponent, resulting in bad shot selections and unforced errors.

One of Zhang Jike's most valuable asset is his mental toughness. His ability to win big points in major competitions has been outstandingly amazing. He would rarely make mistakes and calmly play to his strengths.

In 2014, Zhang's world ranking dropped to 5th as a result of consecutive early world tour exits and title drought. Head coach Liu Guoliang criticized him for his lack of focus and techniques development. However, Zhang managed to lead his hometown team; Shandong, to the 2014 Chinese Table Tennis Super League championship.

Career records[edit]

Singles (as of December 6, 2011)[3]

Men's Doubles

  • World Championships: Semi-final (2009, 11).
  • Pro Tour winner (6): Kuwait Open 2010; Slovenian, English, UAE, German, China (Suzhou) Open 2011.
    Runner-up (7): Kuwait, Qatar Open 2008; China (Suzhou) Open 2009; German Open 2010; Qatar, China (Shenzen), Austrian Open 2011.
  • Pro Tour Grand Finals: winner (2011).
  • Asian Games: winner (2010).

Mixed Doubles

  • World Championships: Runner-up (2009).
  • Asian Games: QF (2010).
  • Asian Championships: Runner-up (2009).

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "ITTF player's profile". International Table Tennis Federation. Retrieved 2010-08-07. 
  2. ^ "ITTF world ranking". International Table Tennis Federation. Archived from the original on 2012-10-02. Retrieved 2010-08-07. 
  3. ^ a b "ITTF Statistics". International Table Tennis Federation. Retrieved 2011-11-13. 
  4. ^ "China's Zhang wins men's table tennis gold". The Times Of India. Retrieved 2012-08-02. 
  5. ^ "Sport Olympics 2012: table tennis". The Guardian (London). 2012-08-02. Retrieved 2012-08-03.