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China wins 6th straight women's title at table tennis team worlds

Xinhua | Updated: 2024-02-25 01:11
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BUSAN, South Korea -- China rallied past Japan 3-2 to claim its sixth consecutive women's title at the ITTF World Team Table Tennis Championships Finals here on Saturday.

It was also a record-extending 23rd time that China has lifted the coveted Corbillon Cup in history.

In the two sides' fifth straight head-to-head final in the tournament dating back to 2014, the trio of Sun Yingsha, Chen Meng and Wang Yidi helped China emerge victorious again to stand on top of the podium.

Sun stepped on the court first, with 15-year-old Miwa Harimoto her opponent in the opener. With a win-loss record of 3-0 in their previous head-to-heads, top-ranked Sun gained a foothold right from the get-go, prevailing 11-5 in the first game.

The second game was fiercer, as Harimoto shrugged off an early deficit to draw level at 8-all, but Sun bagged three points in a row afterward to go up by a two-game margin.

With all cylinders firing, the world No. 1 built a 4-1 lead in the third game, forcing Harimoto into a timeout. However, it worked quite little for the Japanese teenager as Sun won 11-4 to put a point on the board for China.

"The final today was very intense and exciting, and all six players from both sides have indeed played at our best level," said Sun.

"Among up-and-coming young players of team Japan, Miwa is indeed a very strong one, very talented with a unique style. Watching her growth in recent years, we can feel that she's around the same standard as us now," commented Sun.

Chen Meng has enjoyed victories in all of her seven encounters with Japan's Hina Hayata. The Olympic champion dominated the play with her rapid shots on two sides of the table, emerging victorious 11-6 in the first game.

Aiming to rewrite her inferior record, Hayata regrouped herself to hold four game points at 10-6 and steady herself for an 11-8 win to bring their duel back to level.

Hayata changed the momentum from there, going ahead 10-5, and withstood Chen's rally to triumph 11-9 in the third game after calling a timeout.

The fourth game went in Chen's favor at an early stage, but a stubborn Hayata evened it at 7-all before taking the initiative in her hand. Despite Chen saving five set points, Hayata managed to come through at 14-12 as the tie was level at one apiece.

Miu Hirano reigned supreme in backhand, dispatching world No. 2 Wang Yidi in straight games 11-8, 13-11, 12-10 as Japan was one win away from the title.

With China back against the wall, Sun got the ball rolling in an encounter featuring the two sides' No. 1 paddlers against Hayata, triumphing 11-2, 11-7, 11-6 to keep her side's hope of title defense alive.

Coming into action again, Chen made up for her defeat earlier in the title showdown, coming back from one game down to prevail 3-1 in her first meeting with the 16th-ranked Harimoto, bringing the clash which last over three and a half hours to an end.

After Harimoto took the initiative at 11-4, Chen responded with an 11-7 win in the second game. Clearly knowing the importance of the third game, the two players went toe-to-toe for an 8-all tie, before Chen held her nerve for three points in a row.

The Busan Exhibition and Convention Center erupted into cheers when Chen secured her final point in an 11-7 win in the fourth game.

"We expected it to be a very tough match. Japan has shown its prowess as a strong team, and we can feel the threat that it has posed," said Chen.

France and Hong Kong, China shared bronze in the women's event.

Earlier on Saturday, China and France emerged victorious in the men's team semifinals, and will vie for the title on Sunday.

China escaped a full-set thriller to beat hosts South Korea, while France notched a 3-1 victory over Chinese Taipei.

Top-ranked Fan Zhendong picked up two wins and saved China from the brink of defeat, while Wang Chuqin made amends for his opening loss with a straight-game victory in the decisive matchup.

World No. 6 Felix Lebrun became the star of the show for France, scoring two points as his side made the final for the first time since 1997.

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