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Chinese pair enter men's table tennis semis at London Olympics


08:31, August 02, 2012

Zhang Jike of China competes during men's table tennis singles quarterfinal match, at London 2012 Olympic Games in London, Britain, on August 1, 2012. Zhang Jike of China defeated Jiang Tianyi of Chinese Hong Kong 4-1. (Xinhua/Shen Bohan)

LONDON, Aug. 1 (Xinhua) -- Top seed Zhang Jike of China beat Jiang Tianyi of Hong Kong, China, in five sets to cruise into the men's singles semifinals at the Olympic table tennis tournament on Wednesday.

The world champion, world number one and hot favorite won 11-4, 8-11, 11-4, 11-9 and 11-6 against his childhood good friend, No. 11 seed.

Zhang, appearing relaxed, said he felt less pressured than two days ago. "I feel much better now. The pressure was huge two days ago. Jiang and I are very familiar with each other. So I feel more comfortable today."

Zhang narrowly made into the quarterfinals on Monday, after being dragged into a tight seven-set match by five-time Olympian Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus.

Asked why his coach Liu Guoliang touched his ears at the break after the fourth set, Zhang said Liu told him to relax. "He said I already led Jiang 3-1, and there this no need to play so cautiously."

Jiang, who moved to Hong Kong from the Chinese mainland in 2005, said he trained together with Zhang Jike in east China's Shandong Province since they were 11. And they both later entered the national youth team. "We were good friends and know each other's playing style very well."

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