Fright for China's men as Wang Nan ousted in world champs
China's men were given a fright while the women suffered a major setback with defeat for triple champion Wang Nan as their grip on the world table tennis championhips was severely tested.
Wang, the defending champion and one of the most decorated ping pong stars in the world, was embarrassed Tuesday by unseeded South Korean Moon Hyung-jung, who silenced thousands of noisy partisan fans with her seven set win.
A shocked Wang, 27, refused to comment afterwards but will be hugely disappointed after making clear gold was her objective before the tournament started.
Third seed Wang Hao also teetered on the edge against Hong Kong's Chueng Yuk before rallying to win a thriller.
In contrast, the world's top player Wang Liqin steamrollered unseeded Dane Allan Bentsen.
"I was well prepared for the match. I know Bentsen is a strong rival with a slow pace, so my tactic was to move quicker, switch faster and play smart," said Wang, a Shanghai native who admitted feeling extra pressure on home turf.
"Fans from my hometown do make me feel the tension here, but I will try to concentrate on the game and think less of the pressure," he said.
With defending champion Werner Schlager and Olympic gold medallist Ryu Seung-min ousted Monday, the door is wide open for Wang Liqin to reclaim the crown he lost in 2003.
The chink of light for Europe comes from fourth seed Vladimir Somsonov of Belarus, who is safely through after beating table tennis great Jan-Ove Waldner.
Germany's Timo Boll, ranked five, also kept the European flag flying with defeat of Swedish veteran Jorgen Persson.
The 39-year-old Waldner, so often the only European to challenge the Chinese, said he was considering quitting after a 19-year-career that saw him crowned Olympic champion in 1992 and world champion in 1997.
"I'll take a rest firstly and think about it later," he said.
The championships moved into their third day with a row over the balls and the air conditioning in the arena.
Schlager, the ousted defending champion, said the balls were too soft and not fit for a world championships.
"I was not playing table tennis but beach table tennis," he said, prompting Yao Zhenxu, chairman of the International Table Tennis Federation's Technical Committee, to tell him to stop whinging.
"Losers always complain and it's human nature," he said.
Wang Liqin, meanwhile, said the air conditioning affected his game.
"I feel the wind in the gymnasium and it is no good for lobs and long rallies," he said.
While Wang Nan took a tumble, her friend and world number one Zhang Yining produced an awesome display to thrash Yan Chimei of San Marino, dropping just 13 games despite carrying a shoulder injury.
China's other leading players, Liu Jianfeng and Guo Yue, both posted comfortable victories.
In doubles action, three Chinese pairs are into the women's semi-finals with only Hong Kong's Zhang Rui and Tie Yana left to halt the mainland charge.
Three Chinese pairs are also through to the last four of the men's doubles. Germany's Boll and Christian Suss hold the flame for Europe.