China secures men's singles title before semifinals at table tennis seasonal final

15:23, January 10, 2010      

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Chinese paddlers trooped in to secure the men's single title before the semifinals at the ITTF (International Table Tennis Federation) Pro Tour Grand Finals here on Saturday while bagging the women's doubles gold with the victory of teenage pair Ding Ning/Liu Shiwen.

Timo Boll and Christian Suss, both upset by the Chinese in the singles Sino-German clashes, claimed the men's doubles title with a five-set win over Gao Ning/Yang Zi from Singapore.

Suss, ranked 31st in the world, made it a big challenge in the quarterfinal for China's Ma Long, newly-crowned on the world rankings, by almost hauling the game into a seventh set.

"I was trying my best after 0-2 in sets and had my chance to maybe reach a final set," said Suss, finally losing in six sets (11-4, 11-7, 8-11, 11-9, 9-11, 12-10).

"I had two set points in the last game and two bad receipts cost my chance." He added.

The 21-year-old Ma started well but struggled from the third set.

"He prepared well and performed well whereas I was not in my best form," he said. "The match was really tough, especially the last four sets, where I won two of them both by just two points."

He will then face teammate Zhang Jike, who ousted Olympic Champion Ma Lin in the first round before winning over South Korean Joo Se Hyuk in six sets to reach the semifinal.

"Ma Long is my biggest headache," said Zhang of the same age. "I hope to play different both mentally and technically in tomorrow's game and hopefully win as many sets as possible."

Another German Bastian Steger was stopped by Xu Xin in clear sets, who had already subdued Germany's No. 1 Timo Boll in the first round.

Xu, who had just celebrated his 20th birthday, will vie for a final position with veteran Wang Liqin, advancing by a six-set win over compatriot youngster Hao Shuai.

In the women's quarterfinals, reigning champion Guo Yan from China cruised into the top four over Japan's Sayaka Hirano without yielding a set.

"I prepared well and concentrated from the very beginning," said Guo, ranked fourth in the world. "I left her no chance to fight back."

She set up a semifinal clash with South Korea's defensive specialist Kim Kyung Ah for the second time in two months after they met in the semifinal of the Pro Tour English Open last November.

"She is an experienced player and is always one of our major threats," said Guo. "I am already in preparation and I have to be very patient in tomorrow's game."

Kim kept her winning record over Japan's top peddler Ai Fukuhara by winning the quarter fiinal in clear sets.

The other semifinal will take place between one of the doubles winner Ding Ning and Singapore's Feng Tianwei.

Source: Xinhua
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