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Chinese paddlers sail into second round at Durban table tennis worlds

DURBAN, South Africa, May 21 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese table tennis players extended their flawless performances, advancing into the second round at the 2023 ITTF World Table Tennis Championships (WTTC) Finals here on Sunday.

China's dominance on the second day of action was underscored by an unbroken game victory of Lin Gaoyuan and Lin Shidong over Japanese duo Tomokazu Harimoto and Maharu Yoshimura in the men's doubles first round.

Crowned champions at last month's World Table Tennis (WTT) Star Contender in Bangkok, the Lin pair faced significant challenges only in the second game, nevertheless securing an 11-6, 11-9, 11-3 victory, securing their spots in the last 32.

"I was confident about our win," Lin Gaoyuan confirmed. "We were well-prepared for the challenges as we faced such formidable opponents in our first match here. Our adjustments on the court were effective. Whether in terms of our mentality or handling of the ball, I think we did well today."

"Our victory at the WTT Star Contender in Bangkok has fostered good chemistry. Overcoming formidable opponents in the first match boosts our confidence and furthers our chemistry," 18-year-old Lin Shidong added.

Harimoto remained undaunted despite the loss, acknowledging that the Chinese pair made few unforced errors.

"After facing Chinese pairs several times, I've observed their quality strikes - something we need to learn from," said Harimoto, the fourth-ranked player aiming for medals in his singles and mixed doubles events in Durban.

In his inaugural face-off against Ocean Belrose of French Polynesia, second seed Wang Chuqin established a comfortable two-game lead by winning 11-2, 11-4. However, when Belrose altered his serve tactics, it initially worked to his advantage.

Wang clinched the third game 11-7, moving within one game of a second-round spot. Despite Belrose's 11-9 win in the fourth game, Wang refocused and secured his berth in the next round with an 11-3 victory in the final game.

"After dropping a game, I felt I concentrated more on my strikes," Wang explained. "He changed his serves in the fourth game. I was slightly thrown off and made some unforced errors."

In the singles division, world No. 8 Lin Gaoyuan marched forward, dispatching Jakub Dyjas of Poland in consecutive games.

Their only previous encounter ended in a 3-1 victory for Lin at the WTT Contender Muscat last year. This time, the Chinese player faced little resistance in securing an 11-8, 11-5, 11-6, 11-7 victory over the Pole.

"Major competition's first couple of rounds are never easy. My opponent is strong, and it wasn't easy to beat him last time, so I was well-prepared for the challenges today," Lin said.

Women's singles fourth seed Wang Yidi advanced through the first round by defeating Mateja Jeger of Croatia 4-0.

Olympic champions Ma Long and Chen Meng, along with Liang Jingkun and Chen Xingtong, secured their second-round berths on Saturday.

With Fan Zhendong, Sun Yingsha and Wang Manyu enjoying a first-round bye, Sunday's results ensure that all Chinese players advance to the second round in both singles and doubles categories.

The most significant upset so far in Durban occurred in the men's singles, where sixth-seeded Brazilian Hugo Calderano was defeated 4-2 by world No. 74 Brian Afanador of Puerto Rico.

"Experiencing highs and lows, achieving such a victory today is truly an accomplishment for me, my team, and my family. It's genuinely emotional," Afanador confessed.

Also on Sunday, Japan's Mima Ito, Hina Hayata, Miu Hirano, and Miyu Nagasaki each registered a 4-0 victory in the women's singles first round. German defender Han Ying secured her spot in the last 64 with the same score.

On the men's side, ninth seed Lin Yun-Ju of Chinese Taipei and No. 10 seed Qiu Dang of Germany both triumphed 4-2 in their first-round matches. .