Paris, May 16 (IANS) China’s table tennis team showed its dominance in the World Championships as all of their players advanced in the competition.
With the worlds entering the third day’s competition, there is not a single Chinese player facing serious challenge and they passed a very clear message that the sport remains their domain, Xinhua reports.
Zhang Jike launched his title defence in style beating Sweden’s Fabian Akerstrom in straight sets. The gold medallist at the London Olympics won 11-5, 11-1, 12-10, 11-7 over the 321st-ranked opponent Wednesday.
His Chinese teammate Ma Lin, the Olympic champion in 2008, also advanced after eliminating local player Christophe Legout without conceding a game.
The other three Chinese stars Xu Xin, the top seed, and Ma Long, the World Cup winner, all reached the second round with straight-set victories.
Wang Hao, whom Zhang beat in the Olympic final in London, was an exception. Unlike his other star teammates, He conceded a game, in the win over Marcos Madrid of Mexico.
Fan Zhendong, 16, and Yan An, 20, the two youngest players in the Chinese men’s team, also entered the second round, beating Oleksandr Didukh of Ukraine and Croatia’s Roko Tosic.
Chinese women went even further than their men’s teammates. Seven of them, including qualifier Hu Limei, played two matches each within a day and all cruised to the third round.
The day’s biggest surprise came from Japanese star Ai Fukuhara, who was upset 2-4 by little-known Park Seonghye of South Korea in the first round.
The 12th-ranked Fukuhara, who has long been Japan’s darling of the sport, lost 11-4, 6-11, 9-11, 11-3, 8-11, 6-11 to Park, ranked 166th in the world.
Fukuhara shocked table tennis world by reaching the last eight at the 2003 Paris World Championships at the age of 14. But that remains her best singles feat in the mega event.