Excitement ran high at the World Table Tennis Championships held here on Friday as Chinese paddlers continued to show prowess with almost all of them sealing a place in the quarter-finals.
Top seeds and world No. 1s Fan Zhendong and Chen Meng ousted their respective rivals in the men’s singles and women’s singles competitions to march into the last eight.
Fan beat compatriot Wang Chuqin 4-2 and will play another teammate Lin Gaoyuan in the quarter-finals.
Another male paddler Liang Jingkun broke English hearts by ending the hopes of Liam Pitchford in an epic seven-game thriller in which the Chinese won 4-3. Liang will take on third seed Hugo Calderano from Brazil in the next round.
Chen had a tougher battle at hand against former Asian champion Miu Hirano. Their battle for supremacy went the full distance to seven games, and it was Chen who eventually came up tops by defeating her Japanese rival 4-3.
Sun Yingsha cruised into the last eight, while her teammates Wang Manyu and Chen Xingtong will play each other at the women’s singles quarterfinals on Saturday.
Wang Yidi outclassed Japan’s Hina Hayata 4-2 to the next round, where she will take on third seed Mima Ito, Hayata’s compatriot.
Defending champions Wang Manyu/Sun Yingsha have been awarded a quarter-finals ticket in the women’s doubles, as they attempted to hold onto the trophy they held aloft in 2019. Sixth seeds Petrissa Solja/Shan Xiaona saved multiple game points to steal the opening game and refused to back down against the title favorites. However, Wang/Sun held their nerve and went on to recover an important 3-1 win, 16-18, 11-7, 11-6, 11-9.
Another Female combination Chen Meng/Qian Tianyi also progressed to the last eight, after a 3-1 victory over Slovakian Barbora Balazova/Hana Matelova.
Spain’s Alvaro Robles and Romania’s Ovidiu Ionescu, the 2019 runners-up, failed to replicate their heroics in Houston. The duo’s journey in the men’s doubles at the 2021 Worlds was halted after losing to their Chinese opponents Fan Zhendong/Wang Chuqin 3-1.
Lin Gaoyuan/Liang Jingkun also moved into the last eight, after beating their French rivals Emmanuel Lebesson/Alexandre Cassin 3-0.
In the mixed doubles, Wang Chuqin/Sun Yingsha secured a berth in the next round, after taking down their opponents Chen Chien-An/Chen Szu-Yu of Chinese Taipei 3-1.