Sat. Jan 28th, 2023

NANYANG (XINHUA) – World champions Ma Long and Liu Shiwen both suffered shock exits in the singles events at China’s table tennis Olympic simulation on Saturday (May 29), while Wang Chuqin/Sun Yingsha outclassed Xu Xin/Liu to win the mixed doubles title.

In the mixed doubles final between two Tokyo-bound pairs, Wang/Sun came back from 3-1 down to overcome the reigning world champions Xu/Liu 8-11, 11-9, 11-13, 8-11, 14-12, 11-4, 11-9.

The big surprise of the night, however, came in the men’s singles quarter-finals as the Grand Slam winner Ma Long lost 11-5, 11-9, 12-10, 6-11, 5-11, 11-8 to Xu Chenhao, whose previous best result was a last-eight finish in the 2012 national championships.

Ma, 32, a three-time world champion and the reigning Olympic champion, opened his encounter against 26-year-old Xu in a lackluster way, losing three sets in a row. The Chinese men’s team skipper managed to pull two points back in the following sets, but failed to hold on to turn the table.

“I knew I need to make some changes in tactics, but it’s too late when trailing 3-2 in sets and 8-4 in the sixth one,” noted Ma, the world No. 3.

It is the second time in just three weeks that Ma has been ousted by a younger teammate. He lost to Zhou Qihao, also in the men’s singles quarter-finals, at the first stop of China’s Olympic simulation in Xinxiang earlier this month.

“Despite the defeat, I think it’s a good thing to learn some lessons ahead of the Olympic Games. It reminds me that I should do more to avoid a slow start and to prepare more if it’s not avoidable,” he said.

Xu Chenhao will next play world No. 2 Xu Xin in Sunday’s semi-finals after the 31-year-old pen-hold paddler beat Liang Jingkun in four straight sets in the quarter-finals.

Earlier on Saturday, Liu Shiwen was the first Tokyo-bound star shown the door as she was beaten 4-0 by 22-year-old He Zhuojia in the women’s singles quarter-finals.

The 30-year-old Liu, a record five-time World Cup winner, left the court during the match for five minutes, before returning to lose 11-4, 16-14, 11-6, 11-8.

He, whose playing style is similar to Japanese ace Mima Ito, will next take on world No. 1 Chen Meng, who advanced with a 4-2 victory over former Hong Kong Open champion Wang Yidi.

By rahul