Baggaley bids for fourth World Ping Pong title
- Credit: Archant
Andrew Baggaley will bid to become the first four-time winner of the BetVictor World Championship Of Ping Pong at Alexandra Palace this weekend.
The ninth edition of Matchroom MultiSport supremo Barry Hearn's popular classic old school sandpaper hardbat tournament sees 64 players gunning for the lucrative $20,000 top prize in ping pong.
Russia's Maxim Shmyrev, who also be looking to clinch title number four, and previous winners from China Yan Weihao and Wang Shibo - who lost to Baggaley in the deciding fifth set in last year's final - are among some of the other main contenders for the 2020 title.
And Germany's twice-runner up Alexander Flemming, popular Philippine Richard Gonzalez and Dutchman Martin Groenewold will also be hoping to feature in the race honours.
"Personally I look at it as the next opponent but I would say all the Chinese (eight playing week at Ally Pally), Alexander Flemming and Maxim is always dangerous because he is always there," said England international Baggaley, 36, of his main rivals.
"With this open draw you kind of never know because from the last 16 onwards if you make it there then there could another player who could sneak through the other side of the draw.
"It's a bit of an unknown there which creates that atmosphere and excitement. I say that the Chinese and a few top Europeans could win it."
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The ever consistent Chris Doran, Ethan Walsh, Matt Ware and popular Stratford-based Scotsman Gavin Rumgay are the homee nations' other hopefuls but Baggaley, a three-time English table tennis champion and twice Commonwealth Games gold medalist, is pretty confident of claiming a record-breaking fourth title at the iconic Ally Pally in Wood Green by Sunday evening.
"It will be incredible to win four titles," added Baggaley, who begins his defence on the main televised table against Italian Gianmarco Gallina.
"Three is amazing but four will be even better and that's the ultimate goal. I'll take it from the starting group match, then build up match by match and hopefully I can just play to my potential. If I can play to my potential then I have a very good chance.
"It's a megastar tournament, brilliant crowd, brilliant atmosphere and it's a absolute pleasure to play in front of so many home fans."
Tickets are still available by logging on to www.worldchampionshipofpingpong.net or on the day in person at Alexandra Palace, otherwise catch all the action on Sky Sports Action from 12pm.