By Henry Chen
The Chinese Team eliminated Korea Republic in the semifinal round of the Olympic Men’s Team event with a decisive score of 3-0. This score is nothing new from the defending champion but the opening match was intriguing.
“The fight in the first match was relatively strong. The condition of my opponent, including his strength and abilities, is very strong. In the Singles, Ma Long scored 4-2 against him. Today, I was able to recover from the difficulties in the match and posted a victory. My fighting spirit plays an important role there,” commented Zhang Jike.
2016 Olympic silver medalist Zhang Jike played against Jung Youngsik for the opening match. Clearly, the Chinese player found himself in a very demanding situation. He was close to danger before he was able to confront his opponent with more poise and control over the match.
In the end, Zhang Jike survived the challenge with clenched fist into the air, signifying maximum relief. He recorded 13-15, 13-11, 9-11, 11-8, 11-4.
Ma Long, the 2016 Olympic Singles champion was also impressed with what his teammate has shown in the match.
“Probably it makes me believe that he is the only one in this world who can play like that,” said Ma Long.
The head coach Liu Guoliang may have wanted a more reassuring performance from his players but he, himself can’t deny that Zhang Jike plays best with pressure.
“It has been a long time for Zhang Jike to be in such a bloody battle. Actually the opponent performed extremely well and that forced Zhang Jike to play like that,” Liu Guoliang concluded.
In the 2012 London Olympics, the Chinese Men’s Team encountered a glitch in the Olympic Team event and Zhang Jike was responsible for it. He lost against Germany’s Timo Boll in the semifinals. Four years later, he went through the same stage but with non-identical result.
Zhang Jike now prepares for the the final battle in the Olympic Games, hoping to conclude things on a triumphant note.
“Now we must prepare for the Japan match, as they will be very strong and a tough, physical match,” concluded Zhang Jike.
Find the results of this deciding match here.