Newly-crowned women paddler Liu struggles at Pro Tour Grand Finals

11:14, January 09, 2010      

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China's teenage table tennis player Liu Shiwen, newly-crowned on the women's world ranking list, suffered an early exit here on Friday at the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Pro Tour Grand Finals singles event due to illness.

However, compatriot Ma Long, leading on the men's list, cruised to the top eight of the competition.

The 18-year-old Liu, teamed up with another youngster Ding Ning, won two matches to reach the women's doubles final before she lost to Japan's Ai Fukuhara in six sets in the singles event.

"I could still handle the doubles as there were two of us, but for the singles, it was too fast and I could hardly catch up," said Liu, who caught a cold and suffered a high fever just after arriving Macao for the first championships in 2010 and therefore missed the training sessions.

Liu, entering the world rankings in August 2004 at No. 95, replaced Olympic and world champion Zhang Yining on the top spot of the rankings released by ITTF last Sunday.

"I did not care much about the rankings," she said. "The performances in those first-class world competitions matter more."

The women's singles reigning champion Guo Yan secured a top eight position while Liu Shiwen's double partner Ding Ning took another for China.

As illness tumbled Liu, the 21-year-old Ma Long, who topped the men's world rankings for the first time on the same day, outgunned Germany's rising star Dimitrij Ovtcharov in five sets.

In another Sino-German clash, Xu Xin upset Timo Boll, ranked fourth in the world, in four sets on his 20th birthday.

He set up a quarterfinal clash with compatriot veteran Wang Liqin, who defeated Leong Kin Wa from Macao, China in clear sets.

Olympic champion Ma Lin was outperformed by young teammate Zhang Jike in five sets in an all-Chinese match, and said it was not a lucky day for him.

Source: Xinhua
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