TOKYO: China overcame the shock upset of world and Olympic champion Zhang Jike to sweep the men’s and women’s titles at the table tennis World Team Championships on Monday. In front of thousands of fans at Tokyo’s Yoyogi Gymnasium, China’s women blazed past hosts Japan but their redoubtable men’s team had to battle past a determined Germany before retaining their title.
After Ma Long dispatched Timo Boll 11-6, 11-9, 11-9, a rout looked on the cards but China reckoned without Dimitrij Ovtcharov, who handed Zhang his first ever defeat at a World Championships. But Ovtcharov’s stunning 13-11, 11-8, 11-6 win looked like counting for little when Xu Xin dismissed Patrick Franziska 11-5, 11-2, 11-9 to put China back in front. And Ma quickly brought Ovtcharov down to earth when he beat the German in three straight games, 12-10, 11-5, 11-2, to seal China’s 19th title in 24 final appearances.
Meanwhile China had fewer problems defending the women’s title after Ding Ning weathered a storm against Yuka Ishigaki to take the opener in four games, 11-8, 8-11, 11-2, 11-5. World and Olympic champion Li Xiaoxia beat Kasumi Ishikawa 11-8, 11-7, 11-7 and Liu Shiwen then finished the job when she outclassed Sayaka Hirano 11-4, 11-2, 11-5. It extended the extraordinary run of the Chinese women, who have reached every world team final since 1963 and have raised the trophy 19 times.
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