Ma Long, Fan Zhendong and Xu Xin all failed to turn up for their round-of-16 matches at the China Open last year ©ITTF

Fan Zhendong will lead a strong home team at the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) China Open when main draw action commences tomorrow in Shenzhen, a year after the country's top male players withdrew mid-tournament.

Fan, the number one seed, will be joined by reigning world and Olympic champion Ma Long, Xu Xin and Lin Gaoyuan in a Chinese squad looking to continue the form they showed when winning the Team World Championship title in Halmstad at the beginning of this month.

Fan, Ma and Xu all failed to arrive for their second-round matches at the China Open in Chengdu last year in apparent protest at the departure of their coach, Liu Guoliang.

Three more home players, including London 2012 Olympic singles champion Zhang Jike - probably the most recognisable sportsperson in China - and teenager Wang Chuqin, have successfully navigated the qualifying rounds at the Sports Center Gymnasium.

Defending champion Dimitrij Ovtcharov is absent this time around through injury but Timo Boll, who was beaten in an all-German final last year, starts as second seed.

Japanese quartet Koki Niwa, Olympic bronze medallist Jun Mizutani, Kenta Matsudaira and teenage sensation Tomokazu Harimoto - likely to be Wang's big rival at the Summer Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires later this year - are also among those seeded straight through to the main draw.

Mixed doubles will feature on the China Open programme before the event makes its Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020 ©ITTF
Mixed doubles will feature on the China Open programme before the event makes its Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020 ©ITTF

South Korea's world bronze medallist Lee Sang-su, Brazil's Hugo Calderano and France's Simon Gauzy will be among other seeds hoping to spring a surprise.

China will expected to prove similarly dominant in the women's draw after their win over Japan in the World Team Championships final.

Top seed Zhu Yuling is joined by world and Olympic singles champion Ding Ning, Wang Manyu - the world junior champion and winner in Hong Kong last week - Gu Yuting, Wu Yang and Sun Yingsha in the main draw.

Second seed Kasumi Ishikawa is also joined by Mima Ito and Miu Hirano in a full-strength Japanese team.

The event, due to take place until Sunday (June 3), will also mark the first mixed doubles competition on the World Tour following the event's addition to the Olympic programme at Tokyo 2020.

Mixed doubles will also feature at four other World Tour events this year as well as at the Grand Finals.

World Championships silver medallist Chen Chien-an and Cheng I-ching of Chinese Taipei and bronze medallists Wong Chun-ting and Doo Hoi-kem of Hong Kong are each entered this time around.

Ito and Masataka Morizono of Japan start as top seeds while Zhang Jike will lead the home charge alongside world junior champion Wang Manyu.