Defending world champion Zhang Jike shook off the challenge of Brazil’s Gustavo Tsuboi to safely advance to the third round of the World Table Tennis Championships in Paris on Thursday.
Chinese star Zhang, also the Olympic title-holder, but seeded fourth in the French capital after a run of inconsistent performances this year, was made to labor initially against an opponent ranked 75 places below him before easing to an 11-9, 13-15, 11-6, 11-5, 11-7 victory.
The reward for Zhang is a third-round showdown with compatriot Fan Zhendong, the world No. 38, who was taken the distance by Portugal’s Joao Monteiro before scraping through in the deciding game.
Top-ranked Xu Xin cruised into the last 32 after dismantling Sweden’s Par Gerell 11-5, 11-3, 11-7, 11-7 to set up a meeting with Portuguese Tiago Apolonia.
Reigning World Cup champion and second seed Ma Long breezed past his second-round opponent Wang Zengyi of Poland 11-8, 11-2, 11-9, 11-5, while 2009 world championship gold medalist Wang Hao dropped just one game as he brushed aside Cheung Yuk of Hong Kong 11-5, 11-4, 6-11, 11-4, 11-3.
Yan An also progressed, but veteran Chinese star Ma Lin saw his hopes of claiming an elusive world championship title dashed once more as the world No. 8 was sent tumbling by Japan’s Kenta Mastudaira 11-5, 11-7, 11-4, 12-14, 11-7.
Olympic bronze medalist Dimitrij Ovtcharov of Germany matched his Chinese rivals step-for-step with an 11-8, 11-6, 11-6, 11-5 success against Croatian Zoran Primorac, while fellow German Timo Boll, the lone European in the top five, remained in the title hunt as he dispatched India’s Sharath Kamal Achanta 9-11, 12-10, 11-1, 11-5, 11-2.
Earlier, women’s top seed Ding Ning coasted into the round of 16 as she took another step toward defending the title she won two years ago in Rotterdam.
The Chinese world No.1 beat compatriot Hu Limei 11-4, 11-8, 11-5, 11-2 to book a quarter-final clash with South Korea’s Park Seong-hye.
Second-ranked Liu Shiwen swept aside Zhenqi Barthel of Germany 11-3, 11-8, 11-8, 11-3, while Olympic title-holder Li Xiaoxia whitewashed Japan’s Sayaka Hirano 11-4, 11-6, 11-4, 11-6.
Cheng Meng, who will be Li’s fourth-round opponent, and Wu Yang breezed through their matches, but the seventh member of China’s robust squad Zhu Yuling was made to work hard before finally battling past Hong Kong’s Lee Ho Ching 11-3, 11-8, 9-11, 9-11, 11-9, 11-7 to give China six representatives in the last 16.
Men’s singles results (selected)
‧ Chiang Hung-chieh (Taiwan) beat Lee Sang-su (South Korea) 3-11, 12-10, 11-9, 6-11,12-14, 11-7, 11-7.
‧ Chuang Chih-yuan (Taiwan) beat Patrick Franziska (Germany) 11-6, 11-1, 11-9, 11-8.
‧ Chen Chien-an (Taiwan) beat Brazil’s Cazuo Matsumoto 11-6, 11-1, 11-8, 11-7.
Women’s singles (selected)
‧ Kim Hye-song (North Korea) beat Huang Yi-hua (Taiwan) 11-6, 11-6, 11-9, 11-8.