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Wang Hao, Zhang Yining win singles gold at table tennis worlds
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Chinese Wang Hao didn't "choke" this time as he ruined Wang Liqin's run for his fourth, or third straight, men's singles gold medal at the world table tennis championships in Yokohama on Tuesday.

Twice Olympic champion Zhang Yining came back from two sets down to beat defending champion Guo Yue for the women's singles top honor.

China swept all the gold and silver medals in the eight-day championships, leaving only three bronzes to be split up by the Hong Kong team, South Korea and host Japan.

It was China's fourth, or third straight clean-sweep of the world championship golds. The overwhelming success made Chinese table tennis boss more worried than joyous.

"I am concerned about the future of table tennis," said Cai Zhenhua, chairman of the Chinese Table Tennis Association (CTTA). "I hope not only does China enjoy table tennis, but also the whole world."

Cai, also a Chinese vice sports minister, promised that the CTTA would help the rest of the world close the gap with China in table tennis.

"We have started an aid program to raise the standard of the sport in the world, which includes attracting more non-Chinese players to the Chinese professional league and inviting foreign players to train with the Chinese team," he said.

In a lopsided men's final, the top-seeded Wang Hao, who earned a tag of "big-time choker" after finishing twice in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, crushed Wang Liqin 11-9, 13-11, 11-5, 11-9 to win his first major singles title.

Wang Liqin, whose victims included Olympic singles gold winner Ma Lin, withered after losing the first two sets with the narrowest margin.

Ma Lin and Ma Long picked bronze medals.

In a dramatic women's singles final, Zhang Yining defeated defending champion Guo Yue 10-12, 3-11, 11-2, 11-7, 11-7, 11-9.

Liu Shiwen and Li Xiaoxia, both of China, finished third.

Zhang, Olympic singles gold medalist in 2004 and 2008, didn't find her touch and quickly went two sets down.

Jolted awake by the lopsided second set in which the 2005 world champion managed only three points, Zhang responded with a 11-2 third set and went on to grab three more sets for the victory.

Guo started better in the sixth set, but more experienced Zhang closed the gap to one point at 5-6 when Guo called timeout.

After a brief break, Guo leveled 6-6, 7-7 and 9-9. A forehand shot by Guo went off the end and gifted Zhang a championship point, which the Beijing player didn't waste.

(Xinhua News Agency May 5, 2009)

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