Fan Zhendong Table Tennis Player Profile

Here's everything you'd like to know about Fan Zhendong: his biography, sports achievements, titles, equipment and playing style.
By
reviewed
Reviewed by
Last updatedLast updated: November 01, 2022
PingPongAcademy is reader-supported. We may earn a commission through products purchased using links on this page. Learn more about our process here

Currently, the top-ranked International Table Tennis Federation player, Fan Zhengdong, seems to be entering the prime of his career. He has several first-place awards in different tournaments, and the only thing seemingly missing is an Olympic Singles gold medal. That and a win against his older teammate and rival Ma Long in a major competition. But how did Fan Zhendong get here? Well, for him, it started at the age of five and has been an interesting journey ever since.

Quick Facts

Name

Fan Zhendong

Nickname

Little Fatty

Date of Birth

22/01/1997

Age

25

Gender

Male

Place of Birth

Guangzhou, China

Nationality

Chinese

Height

5 ft 8 in

Weight

170 lbs

Hair Color

Black

World Ranking

1

Team

China National Team

Grip

Shakehand grip

Hand

Right

Net Worth

Estimated $5 million

Biography

Fan Zhendong BiographyBorn in Guangzhou, China, on January 22nd, 1997, Fan would start playing table tennis just five years later, which shouldn’t be surprising given it’s the most popular sport in the country. Nevertheless, it was his parents who first encouraged him to start.

He would compete in and win the Guangzhou City Men’s table tennis tournament just two years later. After that, he joined a specialized training school for table tennis, a platform that allowed him to get much more exposure to the sport.

By 11, he had competed in quite a few table tennis competitions, which eventually led to his recruitment by the Eight Table Tennis Team. Some of the heavy hitters on the team at the time were Liu Guoliang and Wang Hao.

Liu Guoliang would go on to become one of the youngest head coaches of the Chinese men’s team after an illustrious playing career. Wang Hao, on the other hand, won a total of five Olympic medals throughout his career.

Fan Zhendong made it into his country’s B team at 14, winning a team even in TongZhou soon after. Even more surprising is it only took him one year to push his way into the A team, followed by a series of impressive performances and a few accolades in singles, mixed, and team events. Among these performances was one in which he upset the then-world champion, Wang Liqin, in the men’s singles tournament.

Since then, Fan Zhendong has gone on to impress even more and is currently ranked 1st among his peers by the International Table Tennis Federation. He is followed closely by fellow countrymen Xu Xin, Ma Long, and Lin Gaoyuan in the rankings, with Japan’s Harimoto Tomokazu ranking 5th.

Career

Given Fan Zhengdong’s early start to the sport, he’s had a fairly long and illustrious career as part of China’s national A team. By the time he joined, he was the squad’s youngest player and quickly became the youngest ITTF World Tour Champion.

He also set the record for the youngest World Champion and Singles Champion. That said, some of these records have since been broken by the current 5th-ranked player, Harimoto Tomokazu.

Having been ranked 139th in 2012, it only took Fan a year to break into the top 5, and he’s never dropped below there since.

He first got the #1 ranking in April 2018 and has dropped from that position twice. That said, he’s maintained the #1 ranking since April 2020. 

Notably, most of his competition seems to come from his teammates, given China’s dominance in the sport. In particular, Ma Long, his senior teammate, has been one of the players that give Zhendong a hard time.

Of the 28 matches the two have played against each other, Fan has only won seven. Notably, two of Fan’s losses against Ma Long came in the World Championships in 2018 and 2015. That said, given that Ma long has indicated that he doesn’t have plans to retire any time soon, the Fan Zhendong vs Ma Long rivalry may yet continue for a few more years.

Fan Zhengdong Equipment

Fan Zhendong EquipmentWith regard to equipment, Fan Zhendong was a Stiga-sponsored player between 2017 and 2021. As one of the world’s leading sports brands, Stiga sold over 1,000,000 products in 2021, and part of this may have been due to Fan’s promotion of the brand. After all, he used the Stiga Infinity VPS blade in most of his competitions.

Fan coupled the Infinity VPS with a Hurricane 3 National Blue Sponge and Butterfly Tenergy 05 on his forehand and backhand, respectively. That said, sometime in 2019 he did experiment with the Dignics 05 for his backhand before ultimately going back to the Tenergy 05 he was comfortable with.

Despite rubbers like the Tenergy 05 and Hurricane 3 National Blue Sponge helping Fan reach and hold on to the top spot, they may not work for everyone since playing styles are different. Also, times have changed, and more impressive options have come into the market. As such, if you’re looking to up your game, you may want to look into our best table tennis rubbers for 2022 before picking an option just because Fan used it.

Additionally, since 2021, Fan Zhendong is no longer a Stiga-sponsored player. Instead, he is fully backed by Butterfly, a Tomasu Company brand. As such, he currently uses a Butterfly Fan Zhendong ALC blade, a product named after him.

While the ALC blade is great for most people, if you use the Chinese Penhold, you might be better suited by the Butterfly Fan Zhengdong Super ZLC since it’s optimized for your playing style. Nevertheless, you’re not limited to options from Butterfly, and if you’d like to check out a few more brands before ultimately deciding on the paddle to use, our best ping pong paddles for Penhold style players list should be quite useful.

Fan pairs the ALC with a Butterfly Dignics 09C, which according to reviews, is one of the best backhand options thanks to its defensive efficiency. It also provides a high amount of spin and speed.

On the forehand, Fan uses the National DHS Hurricane 3.

Fan Zhengdong Playing Style

Fan Zhendong’s playing style consists mostly of explosive footwork that allows him to launch attacks on his opponents and force them onto the backcourt. His backhand attacks are particularly dangerous, although more recently, he seems to be incorporating an improved forehand as well.

Some of his signature moves include forehand looping, and a deadly reverse pendulum serve that allows him to control ball spin. He also mixes up serves to try and keep his game less predictable. That said, there is still some room for improvement in this area. Also, Fan Zhendong uses a right-handed, shakehand grip.

Fan Zhengdong Olympic Record

Fan’s first Olympic outing came in 2021 at the age of 23, where he got gold as part of China’s men’s team. However, in the Tokyo event that combined the Paralympics and Olympics and was attended by approximately 20,000 spectators, according to Statista, Fan could only manage silver in the men’s singles.

He played second fiddle to teammate Ma Long. With the 2024 Paris Olympics fast approaching and Ma Long growing older, the Olympic men’s single’s gold may be within reach for Fan ZhengDong. So, for those looking forward to a Ma Long vs Fan Zhendong Olympics match, you may just get it.

 

Honors and Achievements

Despite Fan not having a single’s Olympic gold medal to his name, Fan has collected quite a few accolades over the years. These include:

  1. ITTF World Tour X15 – Singles – 2013-2019
  2. Asia Table Tennis Championships X2 – Singles – 2015, 2017
  3. Table Tennis World Cup X3 – Singles – 2016, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021
  4. Asia Cup Table Tennis Tournament X2 – Singles – 2018,2019
  5. ITTF World Tour X11 – Doubles – 2014-2019
  6. Asia Table Tennis Championships X2 – Doubles – 2015,2017
  7. World Table Tennis Championships X1 – Doubles – 2017
  8. Asia Table Tennis Championships X1 – Mixed Doubles – 2015
  9. Asia Table Tennis Championships X4 – Teams – 2013, 2017, 2018, 2019
  10. World Team Table Tennis Championships X3 – Team – 2014, 2016,2018
  11. Table Tennis World Cup X3 – Teams – 2015,2018,2019
  12. Olympics – Teams – 2020

Net Worth and Income

Given his successes in the sport, Fan Zhendong’s net worth has grown to an estimated $5 million. As mentioned above, he is currently sponsored by Butterfly after his previous deal with Stiga expired.

He’s also earned lots of money from taking various titles.

The ITTF World Tour, for example, has a $1 million cash prize for the winner, and he’s won several of those. Nevertheless, there’s no definitive number on his net worth, and it could easily be higher or lower than the estimated $5 million.

Social Media

Like most of his teammates, Fan Zhengdong’s social media life is non-existent. There are, however, some fan pages on Instagram and the likes that post regular content. However, you’re unlikely to see anything personal.

Personal Life

Fan Zhendong’s personal life remains a mystery, although it has been reported that he spends most of his time either practicing or hanging out with his friends. As such, it’s safe to conclude that he’s single, and there’s currently no wife in the picture that the world knows of.

FAQs

What is Fan Zhengdong’s ITTF ranking?

Fan is currently ranked 1st and has held on to that position for a few years, only losing it briefly in the 2019-2020 period.

Is Fan Zhengdong better than Ma Long?

According to the ITTF rankings, Fan is better than Ma Long since he ranks two positions ahead of him. However, this hasn’t played out the same way in games between the two. Ma Long has much better results winning 21 out of 28 games. That said, given that he doesn’t plan to retire any time soon, Fan has plenty of chances to prove himself against his older rival.

Who are Fan Zhengdong’s current sponsors?

Fan Zhengdong is currently affiliated with the Butterfly brand with the signature Butterfly Fan Zhendong ALC blade as a result of the partnership.

 

In conclusion

With his current maintenance of the world’s #1 ranking, Fan Zhendong seems to be gunning for his predecessor, Ma Long’s 64-month record. Fan has been knocked off this perch severally in the last few years but always finds a way back. Notably, given that he’s only 25, some might argue that he’s going into the prime of his career. As such, the world can expect a lot more from the Chinese national. He might even have an Olympic gold medal or two in his future cards. We’ll have to wait and see.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *