The race for a place in Stage 2 concludes as the first two days of the 2023 ITTF Mixed Team World Cup with Stage 1 come to an exhilarating end with teams decided for the next Stage.
In unsurprising fashion, day 2 saw top seeds China, Germany, Japan and Korea Republic sail through to Stage 2 in first position of their respective groups with no contest. Host country and top seed of the tournament China dominated Stage 1, only dropping two games to Puerto Rico where Adriana Diaz was able to clinch two games over Wang Manyu.
Despite Puerto Rico’s outstanding performance on day 1, they were not able to hold off Sweden. Team Sweden carrying on the momentum from their win at the men’s teams’ event at the European Team Championships secured a spot in Stage 2 in a strong display of teamwork, defeating both Puerto Rico and #7 seed Hong Kong, China, 8-3 and 8-0 respectively.
“I think we did not expect 8-0, so we are very happy that we were able to be second in the group and go on to the next round. It’s very nice to play in a full house with a lot of screaming people, it’s very fun. And Chengdu has been a great place so far,” reflected Linda Bergstrom after defeating Hong Kong, China, 8-0.
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In the biggest underdog performance of the tournament so far, #16 seed Slovakia booked themselves a spot into Stage 2 as runner ups of Group 2, behind Germany. Following a shock victory on day 1 against Portugal and Slovakia carried on their winning streak, defeating Egypt on day 2, 8-2. Yang Wang, the star of the team so far was able to give Slovakia the competitive advantage, claiming three games over Egypt’s Mohamed El-Beiali with Barbora Balazova and Tatiana Kukulkova sealing the deal and delivering Slovakia the victory in the women’s doubles.
Group 3 saw France qualify in second spot following Japan, after thwarting Romania’s attempt to overpower them. Despite the French women’s team losing to Romania in both their recent encounters at the European Games and the European Team Championships, the French mixed team were able to bring home the win to stay on in the tournament. In a surprising play, Romania substituted their star doubles pairing Bernadette Szocs and Ovidiu Ionescu with Elizabeth Samara and Ovidiu Ionescu who were not strong enough for France’s dynamic duo of Jia Nan Yuan and Alexis Lebrun, giving France a strong start. Felix Lebrun later went to claim three more games for Team France and then paired up with his brother Alexis in the last match to achieve victory.
“Today’s performance, tonight’s performance was very good. The team was in good shape. We played a very strong match. And we are very happy to go to the second stage,” said Felix Lebrun.
Sixth seed, Chinese Taipei narrowly defeated Singapore in Group 4 to take the last spot in the next round. Trailing behind 5-7 after the men’s doubles match, the formidable pairing of Chen Szu-Yu and Huang Yi-Hua were able to stage a comeback in the women’s doubles and claim three games, delivering them the win 8-7 and a place in Stage 2.
Intensity heats up over the next few days in Chengdu, as teams battle to determine their final places at the inaugural Mixed Team World Cup.