Rookies sound up at table tennis Asian Cup

11:54, March 27, 2010      

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A duo of 20-year-olds have shown their capability of leading the new generation of China's table tennis as Zhang Jike beat top seed Ma Lin while Liu Shiwen won straight four on women's part on Friday at the Asian Cup.

In the men's singles quarterfinals, reigning Olympic champion Ma lost 11-8, 11-9, 9-11, 11-8, 11-7 to Zhang, making his record against the much younger teammate in 2010 in world ranking events so far 1-3 for the worse.

The 20-year-old Zhang, having not yet won a major event in his whole career, played a trademark fluent style and only made the draw with Ma after surprisingly finishing second in his group for a defeat to Hong Kong's Ko Lai Chak.

The disappointing draw between the top two seeded players, however, eventually turned to the nightmare of the former world No. 1 Ma.

"I have a good record against Ma Lin and played in a much more positive mood than I had been this morning," said Zhang.

"I tried not to think about this morning's defeat to Ko, but made more thorough preparation for the quarterfinal against Ma."

"The third game was crucial," he added. "I could sense that Ma Lin was becoming more aggressive. When you play Ma Lin it's very easy to be caught out."

Earlier this month, Zhang had almost sealed a spot in the Chinese squad for May's World Team Championships in Moscow after winning the second innitial trial of the national team.

In other quarters of the men's singles, Chinese Xu Xin, also 20 years old, earned an impressive five-set victory over South Korea' s Kim Min Seok, while Singapore's Gao Ning and Hong Kong's Ko Lai Chak completed the semifinal list both with 4-1 wins.

On women's part, fourth-seeded Li Xiaoxia, a member of the Olympic women's team gold-winning Chinese squad in 2008, failed to make the quarterfinals after recording 2-1 in her group playing.

The runner-up of the 2007 world championships, who's recovering from a surgery for appendicitis over 20 days ago, lost to Hong Kong's Lau Sui Fei in the group stage and thus ended up her title chance at the first international event of this year.

With just a month before the Moscow world championships, Li, who had missed the trial and two ITTF ProTour events, had put her chance of making the nation's worlds squad in the stake.

Despite the disappointment for Li, the Chinese duo Liu Shiwen and Ding Ning, both 19 years, roared into the semifinals with impressive and efficient four straight victories. Liu nailed down Huang Yi-Hua of Chinese Taipei 4-1, and Ding Ning eased past Singapore's Wang Yue Gu in four sets.

The other semifinal clash will pit South Korea's Seok Ha Jung and Singapore's top woman paddler Feng Tianwei, after the former ousted Hong Kong's Lau 4-2 and Feng beat the South Korean teenager Yang Ha Eun 4-0.

The three-day Asian Cup, to conclude here on Sunday, has drawn the participants of 16 men and the same number of women, and offers a total of 60,000 U.S. dollars prize money in each event.

Source: Xinhua
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