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World Cup champion Fan Zhendong close to world championships berth

2020-01-03 14:21:00 Xinhuanet

BEIJING, Jan. 3 (Xinhua) -- World Cup winner Fan Zhendong fought into the last three of the men's singles event at the 2020 World Table Tennis Championships China Trials in Shenzhen on Friday.

Fan beat Lin Gaoyuan 4-2 in the second elimination round to make the final three. The final three players will play in a round-robin format to decide the winner who will get the 2020 Busan world championships qualification as well as prize money of 1 million yuan (about 143,000 U.S. dollars).

On Thursday, Olympic champions Xu Xin and Ma Long both endured hard-fought 4-3 victories in the first elimination round.

Ma was given a stern test by 20-year-old Xue Fei in a 12-10, 13-15, 7-11, 11-3, 5-11, 11-9, 11-8 victory. Being 2-3 down, Ma squandered his 7-3 lead in the sixth game and called a time-out when Xue turned the tables to lead 9-8.

Facing elimination, the three-time world champion won three consecutive points to force a decider, where he kept his opening 5-2 advantage to clinch the win.

"We are very familiar with each other so it was very difficult to win. I was ready to play the full seven sets and spared no effort in any of them," Ma said.

The world no.3 will now face Zhou Qihao in the second elimination round, as the 22-year-old eased past Zhao Zihao 4-1.

Xu Xin, fresh from winning the mixed doubles category with partner Sun Yingsha on Wednesday, narrowly defeated Xu Chenhao 11-7, 10-12, 12-10, 8-11, 11-9, 9-11, 11-5. After the two traded the first six games, Xu had a dream 7-1 start in the decider and kept that advantage to enter the last six.

Xu now faces Liang Jingkun in the second round for a berth in the final three.

Fan, who retook his world no.1 spot from Xu in the newest world rankings, eased past Zhang Yudong 4-0 on Thursday.

In the women's singles matches, Ding Ning, Zhu Yuling, Chen Meng, Chen Xingtong, Wang Manyu and Sun Yingsha all defeated their respective opponents to enter last six.

The final round of the singles will be contested on Saturday. Winners will qualify for the 2020 World Table Tennis Championships in Busan, South Korea.

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