After two days of waiting, the all-mighty Chinese female paddlers finally locked their opponents in their debut matches at the Athens Olympics as the first two rounds of women's singles competition concluded Sunday in Athens.
In the last 32 playoffs, or the third round, scheduled for Tuesday, China's world No.1 Zhang Yining, Sydney Olympic double champion and world No.2 Wang Nan and world No.3 Niu Jianfeng will meet Li Chunli of New Zealand, Kim Yun Mi of the DPR Korea, and Elke Wosik of Germany respectively.
Li, Kim and Wosik beat Tawny Banh of the United States, Cecilia Otu Offiong of Nigeria and Lay Jian Fang of Australia respectively in Sunday's second round matches.
In other third round playoffs, Chinese Hong Kong's Lin Ling, Lau Sui Fei and Tie Yana will take on Adriana Zamfir of Romania, Svetlana Ganina of Russia, and Krisztina Toth of Hungary
respectively. South Korea's Lee Eun Sil and Kim Kyung Ah will meet Zhang Xueling of Singapore and Tan Monfardini Wenling of Italy.
The remaining matches of the third round will take place between Mihaela Steff of Romania and Kim Hyang Mi of the DPR Korea, Liu Jia of Austria and Fujinuma Ai of Japan, Li Jiawei of Singapore and Petra Cada of Canada, Umemura Aya of Japan and Schopp Jie of Germany, Viktoria Pavlovich of Belarussia and Nanthana Komwong of Thailand, Tamara Boros of Croatia and Marina Kravchenko of Israel, Kim Hyon Hui of the DPR Korea and Jing Junhong of Singapore, and between Gao Jun of the United States and Fukuhara Ai of Japan.
It was quite a surprise that Germany's Nicole Struse, Romania's Otilia Badescu and Hungary's Csilla Batorfi all lost to their much lower ranked opponents from Thailand, Israel and Canada, who had to start playing from the very first round.
On the men's side, China's world No.1 Wang Liqin and world No.4 Wang Hao, both in the first half of the draw, had already found their opponents in their Olympic singles debut, or the third round matches for men's singles scheduled also for Tuesday.
Wang Liqin will meet Dutch veteran Trinko Keen, who eliminated German Torben Wosik in a fierce second round encounter ending 4-3, while Wang Hao will play German veteran Jorg Rosskopf, who outclassed Polish Tomasz Krzeszewski 4-1.
However, the third singles player of China, world No.2 Ma Lin had to wait for one more day to know who would be his third round opponent, as the men's singles second round still had eight more matches to play on Monday.
In other singles matches of the day, Ko Lai Chak of Chinese Hong Kong beat India's Sharath Kamal Achanta 4-0, Jorgen Persson of Sweden beat Nigeria's Monday Merotohun 4-1, Liu Song of Argentina beat Slobodan Grujic of Serbia and Montenegro 4-1, Chen Weixing of Austria beat William Henzell of Australia 4-0, Lin Ju of Dominica gave a 4-1 upset to Russia's Alexei Smirnov, and Peter Karlsson of Sweden walked tightrope to beat Yang Min of Italy 4-3.
The men's and women's doubles events of the tournament also played 16 matches of the first and second round here Sunday, but no seeded pairs would play until the third and fourth round scheduled for Monday and Tuesday.
Due to their high seedings in all events, the nine Chinese players have enjoyed a bye for the first two rounds, which means they will have no match to play for the first two or three days of the Olympic tournament.
The first appearance of the Chinese paddlers has been scheduled for 8 p.m. Monday, when two Chinese pairs, Wang Nan/Zhang Yining and Guo Yue/Niu Jianfeng will play the fourth round of women's doubles.
The Chinese coaches had worried that the too-long waiting would affect the players' form in their opening matches at the tournament. Team sources said that the Chinese players had kept daily training of more than two hours in the past two days.
Meanwhile, most Chinese players could be seen at the competition venue, the Galatsi Olympic Hall in northwest Athens, Sunday evening, but not here to play on the court, but to watch on the spectators stands.
"They want to know who they will meet in the next round as early as possible, and they also need to study their opponents," team sources said.