Saudi Smash 2024 WTT Grand Slam - What you need to know

Here is what you need to know before Saudi Smash 2024, an exciting addition to the global table tennis calendar. This event marks a significant milestone as it will be hosted in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, from May 4th to 11th.

Saudi Smash 2024 WTT Grand Slam

The Saudi Smash 2024 stands out as the most prestigious event in the World Table Tennis (WTT) series, showcasing the highest level of competition in the sport. This Grand Smash event is part of an elite category within the WTT structure, designed to offer the most intense and thrilling table tennis battles. The tournament will attract elite players from all corners of the globe, competing for a record prize pool of USD 2 million, the largest ever for an officially sanctioned table tennis event.

Moreover, the winners of the men’s and women’s singles will each earn USD 65,000 and gain 2000 ITTF Table Tennis World Rankings Points, further emphasizing the high stakes and significant impact of this tournament on the global stage. The Saudi Smash is not just a tournament; it's a celebration of excellence and a testament to Saudi Arabia's commitment to becoming a hub for major international sports events.


Here are some of the top players participating in the Saudi Smash 2024:

Men's Singles:

  • Wang Chuqin
  • Fan Zhendong
  • Liang Jingkun
  • Ma Long
  • Lin Yun-Ju
  • Hugo Calderano
  • Tomokazu Harimoto

Women's Singles:

  • Sun Yingsha
  • Wang Manyu
  • Chen Meng
  • Mima Ito
  • Chen Xingtong
  • Hina Hayata
  • Shin Yubin

These players represent some of the highest-ranked competitors in the world, promising a highly competitive tournament.

The Saudi Smash 2024 will feature a total of 240 players, with 120 in the men's category and 120 in the women's category. Out of these, 56 players from each category are already placed in the main draw due to their world rankings and previous performances. The remaining 64 players in each category will start competing in the qualification matches beginning on May 1st. These matches will determine who advances to the main draw of the tournament.

The tournament is indeed stacked with all the top Chinese players, who are major contenders in both the men's and women's categories. This includes powerhouses like Fan Zhendong, Ma Long, and Wang Chuqin for the men, and Sun Yingsha, Chen Meng, and Wang Manyu for the women. Their participation adds a significant level of competition, as Chinese players are known for their dominance in the sport of table tennis. Their presence ensures that the Saudi Smash 2024 will be a thrilling event for fans and a challenging competition for players from around the world.

Chinese women’s singles Olympic selection

Besides the substantial prize money, there are enormous stakes for the Chinese team, particularly in the women's singles category. The Saudi Smash 2024 plays a critical role in determining the selection for the upcoming Paris Olympics. The performances of Chinese players such as Sun Yingsha, Chen Meng, and Wang Manyu are not only about winning the tournament but also securing their spots on the Olympic team. Their results in Saudi will significantly impact their chances to represent China in Paris, adding an extra layer of pressure and intensity to their matches.

The Chinese Table Tennis Association (CTTA) has specified the timeline for their Olympic selection trials. The men's selection process will conclude on May 7th, while the women's selection process will extend to May 14th. This timing places significant importance on the Saudi Smash 2024, especially for the women players. Their performances in this tournament are critical, as they can impact their chances of being selected for the Olympic team. The additional week for the women's selection allows the results from the Saudi Smash to be a decisive factor in the final team lineup for Paris.

While Sun Yingsha has almost certainly secured her spot for the Paris Olympics due to her outstanding performance and high ranking points, there is indeed a very close competition between Chen Meng and Wang Manyu for the remaining spots. Both athletes have been performing exceptionally, but their final positions could be heavily influenced by their outcomes at the Saudi Smash 2024. This event becomes a crucial battleground where Chen Meng and Wang Manyu must perform at their best to clinch their Olympic berths. The competition between them adds an extra layer of intrigue and intensity to the matches, making it a pivotal moment in their careers.

The selection system for the Chinese women's table tennis team for the Paris Olympics is designed with precision to ensure that only the most competitive athletes make the cut. This system evaluates players based on several critical factors including performance in selected international competitions where players earn points contributing to their Olympic selection ranking. This approach ensures that athletes who perform well in key tournaments gain a measurable advantage.

Additionally, the integration of points from the World Table Tennis Federation's rankings as of a specific cutoff date factors into the selection criteria, reflecting the players' standings in the international arena over a sustained period. When points and rankings are closely matched, head-to-head results in designated competitions can become the deciding factor, emphasizing not only consistent high performance but also the ability to win crucial matches against direct competitors.

Beyond quantitative measures, the selection process includes qualitative assessments by the coaching staff. These evaluations consider the athletes' physical condition, psychological resilience, tactical skills, and overall readiness for Olympic-level competition, ensuring a holistic approach to team selection.

Interestingly, the system includes a penalty mechanism where players can lose points for defeats in specific scenarios, particularly against international players in key tournaments. This feature is designed to encourage competitiveness and maintain high performance standards. The top two players based on the cumulative criteria automatically qualify for the Olympics, providing players with a clear and transparent target throughout the competitive season.

In the Chinese table tennis team's selection process for the Paris Olympics, the penalty system has also seen practical implications, as seen in the recent example of Wang Yidi. Wang Yidi faced repercussions under this system when she lost to Miwa Harimoto during a crucial match in Macao. As a result of this loss, points were deducted from her overall tally in the Olympic selection rankings, impacting her chances of qualifying. This incident underscores the system's strictness and the high stakes involved, where every match can significantly influence a player's Olympic aspirations. This penalty mechanism ensures that the athletes remain at their peak performance and underscores the intensity and competitiveness required to represent China at the Olympic level.


Chinese men’s singles table tennis Olympic selection

In the men's Chinese Olympic table tennis team ranking situation, the pathway to selection is somewhat more straightforward compared to the women's team. Wang Chuqin and Fan Zhendong have emerged as clear favorites to represent China at the Paris Olympics. Their consistent high-level performances and accumulation of points have set them apart from their peers, solidifying their status as the top contenders.

Wang Chuqin's ascent in the rankings is attributed to his remarkable victories in major tournaments, which have not only bolstered his points but also demonstrated his ability to handle pressure against top-tier competition. Similarly, Fan Zhendong has maintained his position at the forefront of the sport with a series of strong performances that underscore his reputation as one of the world's best.

CTTA has indicated that Saudi Smash 2024 should not be considered in the final selection for the men’s Olympic team. This decision indicates that the rankings and selections are based on a predetermined set of competitions, likely chosen to reflect a consistent measure of form and capability over a specific period. This approach aims to finalize the team composition well in advance of the Olympics to allow for focused preparation.


Other countries have easier job picking their Olympic representatives

In contrast to China's intensely competitive selection process, other table tennis teams, such as Japan, experience a more streamlined approach largely due to having fewer top-tier players competing for Olympic spots. Japan, for example, has already decided on their Olympic representatives in various categories, highlighting the efficiency of their selection process.

For the men's singles, Japan has selected Tomokazu Harimoto and Shunsuke Togami, both of whom are exceptional players with proven track records on the international stage. Their selection reflects Japan’s strategic focus on nurturing young talent and maintaining a strong presence in global competitions.

In the women's singles, Hina Hayata and Miu Hirano have been chosen. These players have consistently demonstrated skill and determination, making them clear choices for representing Japan at the Olympics. Their ability to compete at a high level has been evident through their performances in international tournaments, securing their spots relatively early in the selection process.


Host city Jeddah

Jeddah, a vibrant coastal city on the Red Sea, is the perfect backdrop for this grand event. Known for its rich history and cultural heritage, Jeddah has been a gateway for pilgrims and traders for centuries. Today, it's a city that merges tradition with modernity, making it an ideal host for international sporting events like the Saudi Smash 2024.

Jeddah's role as the host city for the Saudi Smash 2024 leverages its dynamic blend of old and new. As the largest sea port on the Red Sea, Jeddah has long been a commercial hub, contributing to its cosmopolitan character. This historical significance, combined with its modern infrastructure and facilities, makes it a compelling location for high-profile events.

Moreover, Jeddah’s ability to host such a prestigious tournament underscores Saudi Arabia’s broader vision to enhance its global presence in sports and culture under Vision 2030. This initiative aims to diversify the economy and increase cultural exchange, and sports events like the Saudi Smash 2024 are pivotal in this strategy.

To visit Jeddah also as a tourist

Jeddah, with its rich history and vibrant culture, offers a wealth of attractions for tourists visiting during the Saudi Smash 2024 or any other time. Beyond the table tennis tournament, visitors can explore a variety of sights that showcase the city's heritage and modernity.

Historic Al-Balad District: This UNESCO World Heritage site is the historical center of Jeddah, featuring ancient buildings made from coral stone, traditional markets, and intricate wooden balconies. Walking through Al-Balad is like stepping back in time, and visitors can shop for local crafts, spices, and textiles in its bustling souks.

Jeddah Historic Al-Balad District

Jeddah Corniche: The Corniche is a 30-kilometer waterfront area that offers stunning views of the Red Sea, beautifully landscaped gardens, and family-friendly parks. It's perfect for a leisurely stroll, a bike ride, or just enjoying a sunset by the sea. The area also features modern art installations and cafes where visitors can relax and soak in the atmosphere.

Jeddah Corniche

King Fahd's Fountain: Also known as the Jeddah Fountain, this is the tallest of its kind in the world, shooting water up to 260 meters above the Red Sea. Best seen at night when it is beautifully illuminated, it's a must-visit spectacle for anyone coming to Jeddah.

Jeddah Fountain

Red Sea Mall: For those looking to escape the heat and indulge in some retail therapy, the Red Sea Mall is one of the largest shopping centers in Jeddah. It offers a mix of international and local brands, entertainment options, and a variety of dining experiences.

Jeddah Red Sea Mall

Floating Mosque: Officially known as the Fatima Al-Zahra Mosque, this stunning structure is built over the Red Sea, giving the illusion that it is floating on water. It's especially beautiful during high tide or at sunset and is a popular spot for both worshipers and tourists.

Jeddah Floating Mosque

Jeddah Sculpture Museum: This outdoor museum features over 20 major works of modern sculpture by international artists, originally installed in the 1970s as part of Jeddah's beautification project. These artworks are scattered along the Corniche, offering a cultural complement to the scenic sea views.

Jeddah Sculpture Museum

Each of these attractions highlights different aspects of Jeddah's unique charm, from its historical roots to its contemporary lifestyle, making it an enriching experience for visitors. Whether you're in town for the Saudi Smash 2024 or simply exploring Saudi Arabia, Jeddah provides a memorable blend of cultural and recreational activities.


The Saudi Smash 2024 represents an unprecedented event in the Middle East, marking a significant moment in the region's sports history. Hosting a tournament of this magnitude is not only a logistical challenge but also a bold step towards changing the sports landscape in this part of the world. By bringing a premier table tennis event to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia is making a substantial effort to promote the sport, aiming to attract both die-hard table tennis fans and new spectators from around the globe.

This tournament is a crucial part of Saudi Arabia's broader vision to become a hub for major international sports events. The investment in high-caliber competitions like the Saudi Smash 2024 demonstrates the country's commitment to enhancing its global sports profile. However, attracting an international crowd involves overcoming certain perceptions and logistical challenges associated with travel and accommodation in the region, especially for a sport that, while popular globally, has a more niche following compared to football or athletics.

The stakes are particularly high for the Chinese women's team, with athletes like Chen Meng and Wang Manyu competing not only for individual glory but also for critical Olympic qualification points. Their participation adds a layer of international intrigue and competitiveness, drawing attention from table tennis aficionados worldwide.

With all these elements combined, the Saudi Smash 2024 is set to offer some truly incredible table tennis. Whether it will succeed in drawing a large international crowd remains to be seen, but the groundwork has been laid for a memorable event that could very well shift the regional sports dynamics and enhance the global table tennis landscape.

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