On day four, the Chinese team was in fine form, the semi-finals being completed.
The much-awaited match between the men’s first team and the fourth team started in the evening. The top seeded side comprised Ma Long, Xu Xin and Fan Zhendong; their opponents on the day were Zhou Yu, Xu Chenhao and Zhao Zihao.
In the first doubles match, the favorites started with their trump card combination of Ma Long and Xu Xin against Zhou Yu and Zhao Zihao – both sides fielding a left hander with a right hander; often called the “golden template” in Chinese men’s table tennis.
Level at 5-5, Zhou Yu and Zhao Zihao scored four points in a row to win the 11-8 and take the lead. As the second game began, Ma Long and Xu Xin began to attack their compatriots putting Zhou and Zhao in a passive position. Ma and Xu pushed on from there and claimed the first match 3-1 (8-11, 11-5, 11-4, 11-7).
“We played step by step in the doubles, and we were relatively stable, because the game was still tense. We wanted to stabilize the situation before attacking, but our opponents threatened us more. I was more active in the first three returns and tried to make the connection faster in the second game. Using the first three returns to get the upper hand, I tried to make up for being a little slow in the game.” Xu Xin
In the second match, Fan Zhendong played Xu Chenhao. The two have been teammates in the Bayi team and were thus very familiar with each other’s playing style. In the first game, Fan changed from the habit of a slow start, and was particularly strong, frequently putting pressure on his opponent with high-quality offense.
At 11-5, Fan easily won the first game. In the second game, Xu Chenhao also stepped up the offensive. After the two athletes held stalemate to 9-9, Fan gained a game point. Xu played steadily and scored three points in a row, winning back a game at 12-10. In the critical third game, Fan once again took control, winning 11-5, and then withstood Xu’s counter attack in the fourth game, securing the victory 3-1 (11-5, 10-12, 11-5, 12-10).
Ma Long played in the third match. Due to injury, he had missed the singles event earlier last week but after his strict preparations for the team competition, Ma Long is improving every time he takes to the court. Facing the top-quality Zhao Zihao, he completely controlled the situation and had the upper hand throughout.
Starting from the first game, firmly maintaining the lead, Ma only took 18 minutes to win in three straight games and secure the spot in the final for his team (11-4, 11-5, 11-2).
“Today, my whole state was mobilised through the doubles. In the singles, my state was already well mobilized. Zhao Zihao and I haven’t played for a while, so we just start over and prepare more for feelings on the court. Thankfully, I did well in the game.” Ma Long
In the other semi-final, the second men’s team composed of Wang Chuqin, Liang Jingkun and Lin Gaoyuan defeated the ninth men’s team composed of Cao Wei, Yu Heyi and Sai Linwei 3-1 and successfully advanced to the final to face the top seeds.
“I expect everyone will show a high-level duel in the final too. Just now, the three members of our team also talked about the final. The second team has two left handers and one right hander, similar to Japan but their level is higher, so we will talk about the opponent’s technical and tactical characteristics, and also encourage everyone to play the day after tomorrow following rigorous training.” Qin Zhijian
Meanwhile, as for the women’s team event, the second women’s team composed of Gu Yuting, Chen Xingtong and Sun Mingyang managed to reach the final.
The women’s team finals will be held tomorrow night, and the men’s team gold medal will be determined the day after tomorrow.