Table tennis: Olympic champ Ma Long stunned in WTTC Asia Continental Stage

World No. 2 Ma Long of China swallowed a full-set defeat at the hands of Japan's Maharu Yoshimura in the second-round group match at the WTTC Asia Continental Stage here on Tuesday.
Ma Long
Ma Long
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After sharing the spoils with Yoshimura in the first six sets, Ma slipped away 11-3 in the deciding set. The legendary Chinese paddler will compete in position games on Wednesday, January 11, to vie for a World Table Tennis Championships (WTTC) Finals spot. Despite Ma's shock defeat, China has secured four men's and five women's singles berths at the World Table Tennis Championships (WTTC) Finals.

Sun Yingsha, Chen Meng, Wang Yidi and Chen Xingtong all claimed straight-sets victories in the women's singles, while their fellow Chinese teammate Wang Manyu rallied past Choi Hyo-Joo of South Korea 4-1, reports news agency Xinhua. "I just focused on myself in preparation and hoped to give full play to my tactics in the match," said Olympic champion Chen Meng.

Wang Manyu admitted that she had many unforced errors in the first set. "My opponent played with aggressiveness. Down 3-7 in the second set, I felt huge pressure but managed to fight back, and then I felt a bit relieved," she commented. Other action saw men's singles world No. 1 Fan Zhendong sweep Harmeet Desai of India in straight sets. Wang Chuqin got past Iranian Noshad Alamiyan 4-1, and Liang Jingkun defeated Ho Kwan Kit of Hong Kong, China 4-2.

Wang revealed that before the match he had consulted teammate Lin Gaoyuan about his experience of playing against Alamiyan, who shocked Lin 4-2 in the first round of the 2022 Table Tennis Asian Cup. "Alamiyan has quality serves, backhand and defense. You have to fit into his rhythm as soon as possible, otherwise, you will fall behind very quickly," commented Wang.

Xiang Peng, the only Chinese player who needed to start from the first round, beat Amir Hossein Hodaei of Iran 4-1. China secured the full quota in the men's, women's and mixed doubles events of the worlds on Monday. The 2023 WTTC Finals will take place in Durban, South Africa from May 20 to 28.

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