17 Aug 2020

The second day of team action at the “Tokyo 2020 Preparation for China Table Tennis - Olympic Simulation Games" saw sparks continue to fly in Lingshui City, Hainan Province with both men’s and women’s events reducing the number of sides down to the final four on Monday 17th August.

Ma Long, Xu Xin and Fan Zhendong, combining forces once again, proved too hot too handle for the opposition.

Initial opponents were the men’s sixth team composed of Zhou Kai, Sun Wen and Zhang Yudong. First up was the doubles contest as Ma Long and Xu Xin went up against the duo of Sun Wen and Zhang Yudong. Nothing to separate the two pairs at 7-7 in game one, all of a sudden Ma and Xu found some breathing space, claiming the next four points in a row to move in front. Off to a positive start, Ma and Xu grew more in strength; as the match played out, they became increasingly confident; some 21 minutes on from the first ball being played they emerged victorious (11-7, 11-4, 11-4).

Next up was Fan Zhendong and Zhou Kai’s meeting in the first singles fixture of the match. Teammates for the Bayi team, the two players know each other well and were both keen for bragging rights. Zhou actually began the brighter in the tie, racing into an early lead; Fan continued to struggle in game two – forced to save a game point opportunity. Fan eventually squeezed over the line by the narrowest of margins. A tricky start for Fan but he soon began to find his footing, adding another game to his collection soon after, managing to withstand Zhou’s fighting spirit in game four, to secure the win (8-11, 14-12, 11-5, 12-10).

Fan Zhendong recovered from a slow start to battle past Zhou Kai

Two encounters down, it was Ma Long’s turn to take to the table in opposition to Sun Wen. Compared with yesterday’s outing, Ma Long appeared more relaxed on court; that reflected in the overall score-line. In the first two games, Ma fully controlled proceedings (11-4, 11-4), limiting Sun to very little. Few options on the cards, Sun decided to launch an all-out offense; it worked in his favour, putting his name on the scoreboard to reduce the deficit to one (14-12). Sun then found himself just two points away from levelling the tie at 9-7 up but couldn’t convert. Ma won the following four points to complete the job (11-4, 11-4, 12-14, 11-9). Victory for Ma Long and a place in the semi-finals secured.

China’s top entry in the women’s team event composed of Chen Meng, Sun Yingsha and Wang Manyu who opposed a strong line-up in their quarter-final in He Zhuojia, Zhang Rui and Chen Ke.

In the doubles match, Chen Meng and Wang Manyu faced Zhang Rui and Chen Ke. Neither pair managed to assert early dominance with both teams locked in stalemate after the opening two games – first plaudits went to Chen Meng and Wang Manyu who narrowly edged game one, only for Zhang Rui and Chen Ke to respond straight away in game two. In the critical third game, Zhang and Chen led at the halfway stage, but it was the opposing combination of Chen and Wang who re-established their advantage. The finishing line within touching distance, Chen and Wang showed no compassion for their Chinese colleagues, coming out on top 3-1 (11-9, 7-11, 13-11, 11-8).

“Although Chen Meng and I don’t cooperate very often, the mutual understanding is still very good. There may be some unnecessary mistakes in our game, but the overall situation is okay.” Wang Manyu

Sun Yingsha and He Zhuojia were the two players out on court following the conclusion of the doubles. Crowned women’s singles champion in Lingshui, Sun Yingsha was full of confidence; didn’t take her long to earn a commanding two-game lead. Refusing to give up the fight, He Zhuojia stepped up and deservedly secured game three, but her joy was short lived as Sun responded with a devastating performance one game later to finish as victor (11-9, 11-6, 8-11, 11-2).

He Zhuojia (pictured) put up a brave effort but couldn’t find a way past Sun Yingsha in the end

“Regarding our preparations for He Zhuojia’s, we are actually very familiar with each other. We have played many team matches in the Hebei team. We are familiar with each other’s play and preparation. The rhythm of the game was relatively normal. After her time out in the third game, my energy dropped a little and she also changed her rhythm – she played a little faster and made more mistakes.” Sun Yingsha

The third, and what proved to be final fixture, pitted World no.1 Chen Meng against Chen Ke. Favourite for the win before the match, Chen Meng looked uncatchable from start to finish, powering to a straight games win (11-6, 12-10, 11-6) to settle the overall contest 3-0.

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games ma long Fan Zhendong xu xin Chen Meng Wang Manyu Sun Yingsha Chen Ke He Zhuojia Zhang Rui Zhou Kai Sun Wen Zhang Yudong