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China's Zhang says playing choppers like eating fish
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19:12, August 20, 2008

The world's best table tennis player Zhang Yining on Wednesday battled hard to beat a Belarussian chopper in the 1/16 round of the Olympic women's singles, a match she described as fish eating.

"The ball from the other side of the table was spinning so fast and was so low that I could not exert my strength freely," a tired Zhang said, after beating 34th-ranked Viktoria Pavlovich of Belarus 11-7, 11-2, 11-7, 11-5.

"Playing a chopper is like eating fish," she said. "You have to be careful enough to pick out the bones one by one and wait and wait till you have opportunities to attack."

Zhang also said that the last time she played Pavlovich was two years ago and the Belarussian had improved a lot in skills.

"To prepare for the Olympics, we had some special training for matches against choppers because many of our main rivals are choppers, including some Europeans, South Koreans and former Chinese," Chinese women's head coach Shi Zhihao said.

"They are a dozen of them, but Zhang is good at dealing with choppers," he added.

In the 1/8 round beginning on Thursday, Zhang will meet Japan's Ai Fukuhara, who brushed aside former Chinese Hu Melek of Turkey 4-1 in the 1/16 round.

"Zhang is a native of Beijing, so I guess she will be more nervous than me," a cheerful Fukuhara said. "She is a world champion and Olympic gold medalist, but I will spare no effort in the match."

The 19-year-old Japanese star failed to reach the last 8 in the singles competition at the Athens Games four years ago.

Feng Tianwei of Singapore also reached the 1/8 round, after beating South Korea's Dang Ye-seo 4-0.

A total of 77 women take part in the singles event. The top 16 seeds, including Fukuhara, Feng and the three Chinese women, did not take to the tables until the 1/16 round competitions began on Wednesday.

Twelve of the top 16 were born in China, with the other four being Japanese and South Koreans.

Source: Xinhua

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1 China 44 14 19 77
2 USA 26 26 27 79
3 Great Britain 16 10 9 35
4 Russia 11 14 18 43
5 Australia 11 12 12 35
6 Germany 11 8 9 28
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