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China close to curling worlds playoff


14:48, April 02, 2013

VICTORIA, Canada, April 1 (Xinhua) -- China put itself in strong position to secure a playoff spot at the World Men's Curling Championship on Monday when skipper Liu Rui's rink beat both Japan and Russia to improve its record to 4-1.

China beat rival Japan 7-5 in morning play, and then knocked off Russia 6-3 in nine ends in the afternoon in the British Columbia capital.

Against Japan, the team it beat in November for the gold medal at the Pacific-Asia Curling Championship in New Zealand, China broke open a 3-3 deadlock through six ends, with a single in the seventh and a steal for two in the next to go up 6-3.

Japan then rallied with two points in the ninth end to make it 6-5, before China put the match away with a single in the last.

"We played more confidently during the past three games and today we just played our own game and were able to relax a little bit," Liu said following the Japan match, his team's third straight win since losing to host Canada, the defending champion, in their opening game.

"We feel good. It was our expectation to be on a record of 3-1, but we just want to keep playing our own game, at our level and hopefully things will go well for us."

Against Russia, which entered the match 0-4, China went up 1-0 in the second and then exploded for three in the fourth to make it 4-1. With singles in the seventh and eighth ends for China, the Russians conceded the 10th end.

On Tuesday, China faces a much tougher test in Norway in the morning session, and the Americans in the afternoon. The United States has had a poor start to its tournament, falling to 1-4 after getting routed by the undefeated Canadians 7-2 Monday night.

Canada leads the standings with a 5-0 record, followed by China and Sweden at 4-1. Scotland and Norway are at 3-1 and both were leading their respective matches late Monday.

Other games in draw six Monday saw Sweden beat the United States 8-6, while Denmark came back to defeat Russia 8-6. Scotland trounced the Czech Republic 7-3. The afternoon session featured Norway beating Finland 7-4 and Sweden winning over the Czechs 7-4. Canada beat Switzerland 7-2.

The top four teams in the 12-team tournament advance to the weekend playoffs.

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