A perfect animal has eyes of the hawk, strength of the bear, blood-thirst of the wolf and speed of the leopard but that animal only exists in dream. Unlike soccer, basketball or volleyball, table tennis is more of an individual sport than team, and a table tennis player cannot possess all the best techniques. Following are the winners of different table tennis techniques voted by Table Tennis World Magazine:
Best forehand: Wang Liqin, China
The lanky Wang has the strongest muscle groups as a table tennis player, which is the result of years of hard training. He is the physically strongest in Asia and has agility rarely seen in European players. He hits the ball early and has a killer forehand drive with precision. Unlike traditional Chinese topspin players who are dangerous only while playing close to the table, Wang is as deadly close to the table as away from.
Also nominated: Kim Taek Soo (South Korea), Kong Linghui (China), Liu Guozheng (China), Ryu Seung Min (South Korea)
Best backhand: Kalinikos Kreanga, Greece Before playing table tennis, Kreanga practiced gymnastics. No wonder why he can flex his arm in his backhand loop in a way that nobody else can. He is rather below average height. With his small size he can afford to make longer strokes, because he can get ready for the next shot easier. If you are average height, and attempt his shots, there is no way you could make them consistently with his kind of power.
Also nominated: Jorg Rosskopf (Germany), Zoran Primorac (Croatia), Chuan Chih-Yuan (Chinese Taipei), Wener Schlager (Austria)
Best serve: Liu Guoliang, China
No one has reached Liu Guoliang's height in terms of serving with pips-in and pips-out rubbers. He is able to add strong spin to his serves, especially his forehand backspin serve. With nearly the same flick of the wrist, Liu can serve with forehand rubber and backhand rubber, serve lefty topspin and backspin, righty topspin and backspin. He can easily set up for killer smashes with a slew of wicked serves.
Also nominated: Jan-Ove Waldner (Sweden), Ma Lin (China), Wang Hao (China), Tomaz Krzeszewski (Poland)
Best receive: Liu Guoliang, China
Liu has different ways to receive serves. He can loop, smash, push, chop-block and flip serves. He can receive with either forehand or backhand, long or short, straight or diagonal. More important, he has a perfect touch.
Also nominated: Jan-Ove Waldner (Sweden), Kong Linghui (China)
Best short ball: Ma Lin
While Liu Guoliang has the best receive, Ma Lin is the most consistent and dangerous in short returns. He has the best control and connection in short balls.
Also nominated: Wang Hao (China), Liu Guoliang (China)
Best footwork: Ryu Seung Min, South Korea
South Koreans, mostly playing with pip-in rubber in the penhold grip, have the best footwork in the world. Ryu covers as much space as Kim Taek Soo but is even faster and has better judgment than his compatriot. He is more aggressive because he plays closer to the table than Kim.Also nominated: Ma Lin (China), Kim Taek Soo (South Korea), Wang Liqin (China)
Best tactics: Liu Guoliang, China; Ryu Seung Min, South Korea
Around 1995, Liu Guoliang was the most tactics-conscious in the world. In the 21st century, Ryu has caught up with the Chinese. In the 2004 Olympics, Ryu used the well-thought tactics to beat immensely experienced Swede Jan-Ove Waldner and Chinese upstart Wang Hao to win the singles gold medal. Liu is faster than Ryu but the South Korean is bolder in tactics execution.
Best choppers: Ding Song, China; Joo Se Hyuk, South Korea
South Korean Joo Se Hyuk and Chinese Ding Song are the best and most crowd-pleasing defensive players in the world. Ding brought a revolutionary style to the sport by mixing chops with loops and counter-drives. Ding has a good serve and has a sudden and strong forehand drive. Joo has modern active defensive play with a great backhand chop and an enormous forehand topspin.
Best block: Chiang Peng-Lung, Chinese Taipei
Chiang has the most consistent backhand block among the penholders. His jab-block is good enough to offset heavy-spin drives.
Also nominated: Liu Guoliang (China), Ryu Seung Min (South Korea)