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Table Tennis: China men, women retain World Team Championships titles

Left to right: Fan Zhendong, Wang Hao, Ma Long, coach Liu Guoliang, Zhang Jike and Xu Xin earned China a seventh straight World Team Championships men’s title. Photos: ITTF / Action Images.

Left to right: Fan Zhendong, Wang Hao, Ma Long, coach Liu Guoliang, Zhang Jike and Xu Xin earned China a seventh straight World Team Championships men’s title.

May 6, 2014: The top-seeded China men’s and women’s teams retained their titles at the World Team Championships in Tokyo with victories over Germany and hosts Japan respectively on Monday.

 

The China men’s team comprised the world’s top three players – Ma Long, Xu Xin and Zhang Jike – but they didn’t have it all their own way in a 3-1 victory over the second seeds to claim the Swaythling Cup in front of a capacity crowd of 9,000 in Yoyogi Gymnasium.

 

World No. 1 Ma raced to a strong start, the 25-year-old taking down No. 8 Timo Boll 3-0 (11-6, 11-9, 11-9). Dimitrij Ovtcharov then brought Germany back into the match as the World No. 4 won 3-0 (13-11, 11-8, 11-6) against Zhang, the reigning Olympic and world champion, which marked the only individual match China lost in the tournament.

 

However, Xu swept aside Patrick Franziska and Ma beat Ovtcharov in straight sets to secure China’s men their seventh straight World Team Championships win. Ma won the Victor Barna award for the most valuable player of the tournament, while Xu played down any alarm caused by Zhang’s loss to Ovtcharov.

 

“Ma Long has not lost yet. His game is something to learn from,” said the 24-year-old Xu. “But since we’re a team, there’s no need to say that just because somebody lost, it means there’s a problem. The most important thing is for the Chinese team to keep on supporting each other and encouraging each other.”

 

Boll, a former World No. 1, had described the Germany team as the strongest yet, but praised the victors. “This is our strongest generation, but unfortunately for us this Chinese generation is also amazing,” Boll said. “There’s no shame losing to such strong players.”

 

Left to right: Liu Shiwen, Zhu Yuling, Chen Meng, coach Kong Linghui, Ding Ning and Li Xiaoxiao celebrate China’s 3-0 win over Japan in the final.

Left to right: Liu Shiwen, Zhu Yuling, Chen Meng, coach Kong Linghui, Ding Ning and Li Xiaoxiao celebrate China’s 3-0 win over Japan in the final.

The China women’s team also comprised the world’s top three players in Liu Shiwen, Ding Ning and Li Xiaoxia, and they quietened the home fans by beating second seeds Japan 3-0.

 

Kasumi Ishikawa, Yuka Ishigaki and Sayaka Hirano were unable to replicate their successful performance in Sunday’s semi-finals, when they came back from 1-0 down to defeat Hong Kong.

 

The 23-year-old Ding, the 2011 World Championships winner, said: “Our players played our best, we won as a team, so I’m very happy about our victory.”

 

Li, the 2012 Olympic champion, said that not even a 6.2-level earthquake that rocked Tokyo at 5.20am could stop the Chinese women from claiming the Corbillon Cup. “I had not been sleeping well and the earthquake did not help,” Li said. “It was the biggest earthquake I ever experienced, so I panicked a little and didn’t dare move from my bed. I was glad when it was over.”

 

Ishikawa, the side’s top-ranked player, said Japan were satisfied to make their first final in 31 years, especially in front of their home fans.

 

“As a team of five we overcame difficult situations,” said the 21-year-old, currently World No. 10. “For example we came close to losing in the quarter-finals, but we won in the end, which gave us great confidence. We played as a team, with a big crowd giving us energy, and we played at our best.”

 

At the end of the event, the local organisers handed over the International Table Tennis Federation flag to the next organisers in Suzhou, China, which will host the 2015 World Individual Championships from April 26-May 3.

 

Source: ITTF (www.ittf.com)

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