Unstoppable Chinese kept flawless form in Guangzhou on Tuesday, claiming 3-0 victories in both men's and women's events to secure berths at the knockout stage of the 49th world table tennis team championships with the group competition to be continued.
After veterans Wang Nan and Wang Liqin both suffered a little stumble in Monday's round robin team encounters, the Chinese men and women paddlers made a strong state of their dominance to the sport by turning Tuesday's matches to their own show.
The Chinese men paddlers steamrolled over Croatia on Tuesday afternoon as Ma Lin came out the one losing the only set, with teammates Wang Liqin and Wang Hao having a flying run.
Thanks to a back-to-form Wang Nan, the 16-time champions Chinese women handed the United States a very first defeat, making it a quick battle at the fourth round group match.
Wang Nan, one of the sport's most decorated players with 20 world titles, displayed the sangfroid of a true champion and dwarfed 20th-ranked Gao Jun, the 39-year-old former Olympic doubles runner-up in Barcelona, 11-4, 11-8, 11-8.
"My coach asked me to draw a lesson from yesterday's defeat and so I was better prepared for any possible difficulty today," said Wang after the match.
Head coach Shi Zhihao spoke in praise of Wang's performance: "I told her it was normal and she soon recovered herself."
The Chinese women, who have four straight wins in Group A, will meet their final opponents Sweden before entering the knockout stage Wednesday night, while their men's counterparts will take on Austria and Italy in Group A.
Hungary, the 2007 European champions, were the only surprise on Tuesday, suffering their first defeat with the trio of Petra Lovas, Georgina Pota and Li Bin losing to Singapore 3-0 in a lopsided battle that lasted no more than one hour.
The Hungarian women, who displayed a strong performance from the start of the tournament with a series of dominant wins over Ukraine, Romania and Poland, went to pieces when coming under attack from Singapore, which boasts sixth-ranked Wang Yue Gu and eighth-ranked Li Jia Wei.
Group C leader Hong Kong of China and Group D topper Japan are also well on the way to qualify for the knockout round.
(Xinhua News Agency February 27, 2008)