China's new men's world number one, Fan Zhendong, will seek a new title this weekend in the Asian Cup at Yokohama ©ITTF

China's Fan Zhendong, named for the first time in his career as men's world number one in this month's International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) rankings, will seek another first this weekend as he goes for victory at the Asian Cup in Yokohama.

Fan is top seed in an event where he has collected three men's singles silver medals - in 2014, 2015 and last year - but no gold medals.

Seeded second is the compatriot who beat him in last year's final at Ahmedabad in India, Lin Gaoyuan.

Hong Kong's Chun Ting Wong and Tianyi Jiang, seeded third and fourth respectively, appear to offer the greatest challenge to the Chinese pair as they seek to extend a 10-year run of dominance in the men's singles since Gao Ning of Singapore won at Hanoi in 2007.

China's Zhu Yuling will defend her women's title as the competition gets underway tomorrow at the Yokohama Cultural Gym, although she is only seeded second.

Zhu's compatriot Cheng Meng, top of the women's world rankings announced by the ITTF at the start of this month, has top billing in Japan's second largest city. 

Cheng Meng is the Chinese selection who has come in for the player Zhu beat in last year's final, Liu Shiwen, and she will be making her debut in the Asian Cup.

Zhu took bronze in the Asian Cup three years ago behind Liu and the eventual winner, Chinese-born Singapore player Feng Tianwei, who broke seven years of domination in the event by Chinese women.

Feng, however, is absent from this year's competition along with team-mate Yu Mengyu, bronze medallist in 2014, as both are representing Singapore at the Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast. 

China's Zhu Yuling will defend her Asian Cup women's singles title in Yokohama this weekend ©ITTF
China's Zhu Yuling will defend her Asian Cup women's singles title in Yokohama this weekend ©ITTF

Only 16 players are invited to compete in each event at the Asian Cup, with a maximum of two players per country.

The competition is due to take place until Sunday (April 8).

The main challenge to the top Chinese pair is expected to come from the home duo of Kasumi Ishikawa and Miu Hirano, and Chinese Taipei's Cheng I-Ching.

Hirano won a World Cup event in Philadelphia in 2016, at the age of 16.

Ishikawa is the only woman other than Zhu in this year's competition who has previously been a medallist at the Asian Cup, having taken bronze last year, in 2013 and, incredibly, as a 14-year-old in 2007.

Additionally, Ishikawa is very much the player in form.

Last month she won the women's singles title at the German Open.

The player she beat in that final, South Korea’s Suh Hyowon, is seeded sixth in Yokohama, one place behind Cheng I-Ching.