Great Wall indestructible, says Chinese TT champion

Kuala Lumpur, March 6 (IANS) Chinese table tennis player Xu Xin compared the Chinese team to the Great Wall after winning the world team championship here on Sunday.

“The Great Wall is indestructible,” said Xu after China routed a toothless Japanese team 3-0 to claim their eighth straight men’s title.

Rooted for by about 15,000 Chinese clad in either red or white, Xu Xin, Ma Long and Zhang Jike, ranked No. 3, No. 1 and No. 4 respectively in the world, beat Jun Mazutani, Maharu Yoshimura and Yuya Oshima at the Malawati Stadium.

Both Xu and Ma won in straight sets while Olympic champion Zhang, as a slow starter, lost the first set in his 3-1 victory over Oshima.

Ma, team captain, said his confidence shown in the week-long event came from the previous two successful trips to the worlds.

“I did pretty well in the past two championships, which gave me more confidence,” said Ma.

Zhang regretted the early exit of the German team, three-time runners-up, who didn’t make it to the knockout stage in the absence of injured Dimitrij Ovtcharov, world No. 5.

“I would rather take on Germany in the final, which could have be more exciting,” said Zhang.

Last time China lost the men’s crown was in 2000 — right here in Kuala Lumpur, where Liu Guoliang, now China’s head coach, and Kong Longhui, now women’s coach, were stunned by an aging Swedish team led by Jan-Ove Waldner.

Earlier, China took their third straight, 20th overall, women’s team crown after beating Japan 3-0 in the final, where the Japanese women put up a real fight, snatching three sets from Olympic champion Li Xiaoxia and world champion Ding Ning.

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