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China Staves Off Spirited Japanese Challenge to Reserve Place at Top Table
By: Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

Jun Mizutani who, like Kenta Matsudaira, tested Xu Xin  Photo By: Xi Peng

03/30/2013        2013 World Team Classic (Click here to access this section)

Success came the way of China at the semi-final stage of the Menís event at the Times Property World Team Classic in Guangzhou on the evening of Saturday 30th March 2013.

Urged forward by a vocal crowd, who revelled in the fare on offer, victory was recorded against Japan, with the trio formed by Xu Xin, Zhang Jike and Wang Hao eventually emerging successful against the outfit comprising Jun Mizutani, Koki Niwa and Kenta Matsudaira.

A three matches to one win was the eventual outcome in duel not without moments of drama and consternation.

Perfect Start
Zhang Jike gave the host nation the start they needed; he beat Koki Niwa in three straight games (11-5, 11-9, 11-8).

Left handed, the Japanese teenager is deft of wrist; time and again the angles he achieves from the backhand leaves his adversaries floundering, not Zhang Jike.

Superb balance, Zhang Jike was able to return from wide forehand and recover with aplomb to win the point.

Different Left Handers
Next into the arena came Xu Xin and Jun Mizutani, both left handers but quite different; Xu Xin the pen-holder, Jun Mizutani, the shake-hands grip player.

Breathtaking rallies were the order of the day with the first two games being shared and Jun Mizutani leading 10-9 in the third.

A forehand top spin from Jun Mizutani was executed wide to the forehand of Xu Xin; the point was called in favour of Xu Xin. Jun Mizutani and the Japanese team was convinced the ball had touched the edge.

Ronald Wee, the Referee, was called but it was a point of fact not a point of law. The decision of the umpire stood.

Outstanding Play from Jun Mizutani
Would the decision be detrimental to Jun Mizutani?

No, blistering play, he won the next two points; was justice done, that is a matter of opinion. Whatever the view, Jun Mizutani held a one game lead.

Alas for Japan, Xu Xin recovered; he won a close fourth game by the very narrowest of margins before establishing an early lead in the deciding game. The recovery was completed; China held a two matches to nil lead.

Crucial Points
It was an outstanding display by Jun Mizutani with Xu Xin winning the crucial points; it was the same in the doubles but this time Japan won the crucial points.

Wang Hao and Zhang Jike led 10-5 in the deciding fifth game against Kenta Matsudaira and Koki Niwa; incredibly the Japanese duo saved all five match points before winning the next two to record a stunning victory.

Nervous Moments for China
The win appeared to have given the Japanese camp an injection of confidence.

Kenta Matsudaira won the first game against Xu Xin and only lost the second by the minimal two point margin after Liu Guoliang, the Chinese National Menís Team coach, had called a ďTime OutĒ at 9-8 in favour of Xu Xin.

Minimal Margin
In the third game Kenta Matsudaira established a 7-3 lead; gradually Xu Xin fought back; eventually securing success once again by the minimal margin.

A crisis had been averted, in the fourth game Xu Xin made a flying start, confidence blossomed, Kenta Matsudaira, who had performed heroics in the first three games, was unable to handle the power of the Chinese star.

Guangzhou Expects
Xu Xin steamrollered his way to a four games victory (9-11, 12-10, 11-9, 11-3); China had a place reserved in the final.

Chinese Taipei awaits, the Guangzhou crowd expects.

The Womenís Team final is scheduled for 1.00pm (local time) on Sunday 31st March, the Menís Team final at 4.30pm.

Highlights of Xu Xin versus Jun Mizutani in the second match of the fixture



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