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Table Tennis: Japan’s women into World Team Championships final

Japan’s women celebrate their 3-1 win over Hong Kong to reach Monday’s final of the Zen-Noh World Team Championships in Tokyo. Photos: ITTF / Action Images.

Japan’s women celebrate their 3-1 win over Hong Kong to reach Monday’s final of the Zen-Noh World Team Championships in Tokyo. Photos: ITTF / Action Images.

May 5, 2014: Both of China’s national teams moved into the finals of the Zen-Noh World Team Championships in Tokyo, with the men – featuring the world’s top three players – facing Germany in the men’s decider at 4.30pm and the women taking on hosts Japan at 7.30pm.

 

The Japan women’s team brought the capacity crowd to their feet on Sunday as they beat Hong Kong 3-1 in the semi-finals to give themselves a shot at winning the Corbillon Cup for the first time since 1971.

 

Although they had a disappointing start with Yuka Ishigaki losing 3-0 to Lee Ho-ching, Japan won the next three matches, which all went to five games. As she did the previous day against Netherlands, World No. 10 Kasumi Ishikawa clinched the deciding match for the team, this time against Lee.

 

“She’s a great player, but just like my previous match I was able to maintain myself,” said the 21-year-old Ishikawa. “Again I gave it my all. Yesterday Ishigaki helped the team to win, so today I wanted to do the same.”

 

Japan will face top seeds China, who swept aside Singapore 3-0 in the semi-finals, and who have reached the finals without losing a single individual match at the Yoyogi National Gymnasium.

 

Ding Ning in China’s 3-0 win over Singapore in the women’s semi-final.

Ding Ning in China’s 3-0 win over Singapore in the women’s semi-final.

However, Japan’s men lost 3-1 to Germany in the semi-finals. Despite star player Jun Mizutani’s outstanding 3-2 win against World No. 4 Dimitrij Ovtcharov, Germany’s Timo Boll won two matches and Patrick Franziska came back to beat Kenta Matsudaira to give the team that Boll described as “their best in history” a shot at the title.

 

The 22-year-old Franziska said: “I tried not to think so much in this match, to focus on my strokes, serves and receives. I was happy I could win. You could say that it was one of the biggest matches of my life. The spectators were really loud. I played very good table tennis.”

 

Despite Germany having a rich table tennis heritage, they have never won the Swaythling Cup, the trophy awarded to the winners of the men’s World Team Championships. If Germany are to win gold, they will have to overcome their nemesis China, who beat them in the 2004, 2010 and 2012 finals.

 

The China team features the world’s three top-ranked players and Ma Long, Xu Xin and Zhang Jike, and the trio overwhelmed Chinese Taipei 3-0 in their semi-final to keep their hopes of a 19th World Team Championships title alive.

 

Ma Long helps China beat Chinese Taipei 3-0 to reach the men’s final.

Ma Long helps China beat Chinese Taipei 3-0 to reach the men’s final.

Source: ITTF

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