20 Mar 2017

Sheer excellence has left crowds in Riocentro Pavilion 3 awe struck in admiration, as the Chinese trio of Ma Long, Xu Xin and Zhang Jike progressed relentlessly to the semi-final stage of the Men’s Team event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games; at no stage had any member of the salubrious trio been extended the full distance.

On the evening of Monday 15th August in the penultimate round, one young man was not prepared to wave the white flag of surrender.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

In the contest against Korea, the no.3 seeds, Jeoung Youngsik gave Zhang Jike the severest of examinations

Strong Backhand

Similar to Zhang Jike, Jeoung Youngsik is notably strong from the backhand. Earlier in the Men’s Singles event he had extracted the first two games from Ma Long before losing the next four.

Determined, not prepared to roll over, in opposition to Zhang Jike, he secured the first and third games, Furthermore, he almost won the second, leading 10-9, Lee Chulseung, the Korean Men’s Team coach, called “Time Out”. It did not prove a fruitful decision. Zhang Jike won the next three points.

Asserted Authority

Notably, directing his first attacking stroke towards the Jeoung Youngsik forehand, it was only in the fifth game that Zhang Jike was able to assert authority.

Urging the Chinese in the crowd to support his efforts, he established an early lead, he built on the lead to emerge successful and gave his team the early advantage (13-15, 13-11, 9-11, 11-8, 11-4).

“I was a very difficult game against Jeoung Youngsik. He was playing so well, I am not sure how I managed to come back and win but I am very glad I was able to and give my team the start it needed. I played much better in the second half of the match than the first, it took me some time to find my rhythm.” Zhang Jike

Forehand Not Bad

Next into the arena came Ma Long to face Joo Saehyuk; one wondered if Xu Xin may have been selected to play in one of the opening two singles matches. The Chinese camp could reasonably presume that Joo Saehyuk would play in the singles and not the doubles.

Against defence, I would suggest that Xu Xin is the most lethal on planet earth. However, Ma Long who described his forehand as “not too bad” after beating Zhang Jike to win the Men’s Singles title at the 2011 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals in London, proved that his forehand was “not too bad” against the backspin art.

He beat Joo Saehyuk in three straight games (11-1, 11-5, 11-4).

“I prepared really well, I have played Joo Saehyuk many times so I am familiar with his game. Zhang Jike inspired me to also play well. I was really fired me up.” Ma Long

World Champions Secure Victory

China two matches to nil ahead, Jeoung Youngsik and Lee Sangsu faced a prodigious task in the doubles; the confronted Xu Xin and Zhang Jike, the reigning World champions.

Again it was a spirited Korean effort but there was no stopping Xu Xin and Zhang Jike, a straight game win was recorded (11-8, 12-10, 11-6), as in Beijing and London a place in the final was secured.

Gold and Bronze Medal Matches

China now faces Japan in the Men’s Team final, Korea opposes Germany to decide the bronze medal.

Both contests will be played on Wednesday 17th August; the former at 11.00am, the gold medal engagement at 7.30pm.

Rio 2016 Rio Men's News Rio Team News ma long xu xin zhang jike Jeoung Youngsik Joo Saehyuk Lee Sansu

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