Europe chases first victory over Asia at Challenge

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The visiting European team, spearheaded by world No 1 Timo Boll of Germany, is aiming for its first victory over its Asian counterparts at the Hyundai Europe-Asia All Stars Table Tennis Challenge.

The third edition of the popular annual event starts on Tuesday night and climaxes tomorrow in Beijing.

"I think we have a chance this time. Last time I missed the tournament and we lost by a very close score. I hope we can win this time," said Boll, who will play alongside three-time World Cup champion Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus, World Championship singles winner Werner Schlager of Austria, Portugal's Tiago Apolonia and Romanian Adrian Crisan.

Among all the match-ups between the players from the two continents in Yuetan Stadium, the highlight will be the burgeoning rivalry between Boll and China's world No 5, Zhang Jike. Boll defeated Zhang two weeks ago at the ITTF Qatar Open, but lost to him in Sunday's final at the German Open.

"He is a very good player," Boll said of Zhang. "The result depends on how well you can play on a specific day. I was good in Doha but he was better last night. I hope I can win here."

Besides Zhang, the Asian line-up also includes World Championships runner-up South Korean Joo Se-hyuk, world No 7, Japan's Mizutani Jun, Chuang Chih-yuan of Chinese Taipei and Hong Kong's Tang Peng.

After the Beijing event, the teams will meet again in Minsk, Belarus, on Oct 28-29.

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