by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
Ma Long, Fan Zhendong and Xu Xin was his selection throughout; it was the choice in the three-nil win against France earlier in the day; in the evening session of play it was the same trio on duty.
Furthermore, the outcome was the same when facing the Swedish combination of Kristian Karlsson, Anton Källberg and Pär Gerell.
Crowned World champions in Yokohama in 2009, Ma Long and Xu Xin set China on the road to victory; they beat the combination of Pär Gerell and Anton Källberg in three straight games (11-1, 11-6, 11-4). A new system with the doubles first as opposed to third in the fixture but wherever the doubles is positioned, back Ma Long and Xun Xin!
“The new system is a big difference, we have to get used to it.” Ma Long
Success for Ma Long and Xu Xin was followed by success for Fan Zhendong; he beat Kristian Karlsson in three straight games (11-8, 11-8, 11-7). China in the ascendancy, Xu Xin completed the victory but he was tested, Anton Källberg proved a most worthy adversary; Xu Xin needed four games to complete the task in hand (12-10, 9-11, 11-4, 12-10).
“He has a very special service, you have to take care when receiving; it took a little time to adapt; also he is very strong on the first three attacks.” Xu Xin
“I think Xu Xin had problems with my return of service, so I was getting easy points. However, it was very difficult rallying with him; he won a lot of points in rallies. I had to be so aggressive with my service and return and this made the game very difficult for him. The last match against France is very important to us being the deciding match that will determine the second team that will progress from the group. We are fully prepared for it and we hope we can do our best to win and advance to the quarter-final. I think this tournament is a good preparation for us and every team going to the World Championship in April because it gives us the opportunity to play against the best. It is like a mini World Championship.” Anton Källberg
Sweden now plays France for second place. The match is scheduled to start at 12.00 noon on Friday 23rd February.