Taiwanese table tennis duo make history

CNA and AFP, Taipei and Paris

Mon, May 20, 2013 - Page 20

Two Taiwanese table tennis players made history on Saturday when scoring the country’s best performance at the world championships as they qualified for the doubles final.

The duo — Chuang Chih-yuan and Chen Chien-an — beat their Chinese opponents, Wang Liqin and Zhou Yu, 11-6, 11-6, 9-11, 9-11, 11-5, 11-8 in the semi-finals of the World Table Tennis Championships in Paris.

Chuang and Chen were to face two other Chinese players — Hao Shuai and Ma Lin — in yesterday’s final.

Meanwhile, Olympic champion Li Xiaoxia knocked off top seed and title-holder Ding Ning in a thrilling contest to reach the women’s singles final on Saturday.

Li triumphed in the French capital with an exhilarating 8-11, 11-1, 4-11, 13-11, 11-6, 11-8 victory.

Her opponent in yesterday’s title match was to be second-ranked Liu Shiwen, who would be making her first appearance in the final after seeing off 18-year-old Zhu Yuling 11-8, 9-11, 11-9, 11-5, 11-8, with China already assured of winning all the medals in the women’s singles.

Title-holder Zhang Jike moved into the men’s singles quarter-finals by beating Austria’s Robert Gardos 11-6, 6-11, 11-7, 11-5, 11-9.

Zhang, the Olympic champion, but seeded fourth after some inconsistent displays this year, was to face Patrick Baum for a place in the last four.

World No. 1 Xu Xin swatted aside the challenge of Portugal’s Marcos Freitas en route to a commanding 11-7, 11-5, 11-5, 11-7 success to earn himself a last-eight meeting with Japan’s Kenta Matsudaira

The third German to reach the last 16 and Europe’s leading hope Timo Boll cruised into the quarters as he ruthlessly disposed of Japan’s Seiya Kishikawa 11-6, 11-7, 11-4, 11-3.

The two-time World Cup winner is to face China’s Ma Long in the next round.

The 2009 champion Wang Hao saw off Gao Ning of Singapore 8-11, 11-7, 11-6, 1-5, 11-3, while Yan An, another member of the formidable China squad, also advanced after powering past sixth-ranked Chuang Chih-yuan of Taiwan.

Earlier, South Korean mixed-doubles pair Lee Sang-su and Park Young-sook extinguished China’s hopes of completing a fifth consecutive clean sweep at the event as they ousted Wang Liqin and Rao Jingwen in the semi-finals.

However, they came up the short in the final as they were beaten by Kim Hyok-bong and Kim Jong from North Korea, who claimed their country’s first world title since 1977.