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Mighty China turn on the heat in World Championship
Updated: 2004-03-03 09:23

The formbook proved as reliable as the Gulf sunshine on the second day of the World Table Tennis Team Championships here yesterday with China turning up the heat on their rivals as only they know how.

There was a slight setback for Sweden who won the men's team title in Kuala Lumpur in 2002 when they went down to Germany 1-3.

China's men have yet to lose a game, Monday's whitewash of France being followed by an identical scoreline against Japan in Group A in the latest batch of round robin ties.

Wang Liqin dropped two sets on his way to a 3-2 win over Ryu Yuzava but from then on the number ten seeds never got a look in as Olympic champion Kong Linghui and Wang Hao wrapped up the match.

China take on Italy in the third round of Group A action later and the Europeans will be in good heart for the reigning champions after a titanic 3-2 win over France.

ˇ°Italy are making progress, this is the first time we've ever beaten France,ˇ± said coach Massimo Costantino.

Cocking a snoop at their lowly 21st seeding the Italians started slowly with Yang Min succumbing quietly to Damien Eloi before Massimiliano Mondello levelled with a win against the de facto French number one Patrick Chila in the absence of his teammate Jean-Philippe Gatien.

Chila made amends for that loss when his win over Yang levelled the tie 2-2 before Mondello recorded one of Italy's finest hours at the tables by beating Eloi.

Third seeds South Korea had a demanding date against Austria but after world champion Werner Schlager fell to Ryu Seung-MIN and again to Oh Sang-eun the Austrians were never going to deny the team from Asia.

Germany are just shading Group B from Taiwan after beating Sweden 3-1 while the Taiwanese got the better of Russia.

Among the women China, marshalled by world and Olympic champion Wang Nan, have like their male compatriots still to drop a game after executing their second 3-0 win of the week, this time against Russia.

But China are finding themselves matched stride for stride by South Korea, the third seeds routing Singapore 3-0 to share the lead in Group A.

Second seeds Hong Kong top Group B after a 3-1 win over Italy while Japan, favourites to take the all important runner-up spot, squeezed past Romania 3-2 thanks to some artful work at the table by the diminutive Ai Fukuhara.

Italy for their part took a surprise lead against Hong Kong after Wenling Tan had seen off Zhang Rui in four sets.

But Hong Kong's best player and world number six Tie Yana levelled the tie before Lau Sui Fei turned out to put them 2-1 up leaving the stage clear for Tie to wrap up the win with a straightforward defeat of Wenling.

Tie, who was born in mainland China but won gold for Hong Kong at the 2002 Asian Games, is in danger of missing out on representing Hong Kong at the Olympics.

Tie and all the other non-native Hong Kong players could be ruled ineligible to represent the former British colony under an Olympic rule stipulating that competitors must carry the passport of the country they are representing.

China have no such concerns and are comfortably in control of their group, although Wang found herself in trouble in the opening set against Russia's Galina Melnik.

Melnik shot out of the blocks, racing to a 6-0 lead before Wang levelled, onyl for Melnik to go on and take the opening set.

But using her killer top spin to good effect Wang soon extinguished the danger, taking the next three sets. ¨C AFP

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