Invincible: China women demolish Germany to claim gold in team table tennis
China on target for their third consecutive clean sweep of titles
China stormed to a ruthless 3-0 victory over Germany in the Olympics women’s team final to win gold as the mainland edged closer to completing a third straight clean sweep of the table tennis titles.
Li Xiaoxia, Liu Shiwen and Olympic singles gold medallist Ding Ning were in imperious form as they swept nine of the 10 games in less than 90 minutes.
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The German team of Han Ying, Petrissa Solja and Shan Xiaona settled for silver with Japan taking the bronze.
Li Xiaoxia, the 2012 London Games women’s singles champion, said the pressure on the team to win gold ensured that they would show no mercy in the final.
“Of course there is a lot of pressure on us because we want to win all the golds,” she said.
“But we have a lot of confidence in our abilities to win because we have such a strong team.”
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China have won all four golds since the Beijing Olympics in 2008, when the team competition was introduced to replace the men’s and women’s doubles.
And it was their 27th gold medal from the last 31 available since table tennis first appeared at an Olympics in Seoul in 1988.
The 2,000-strong crowd were hoping to watch a tight contest but they had barely settled into their seats before Li Xiaoxia had given China a 1-0 lead by beating Han Ying 3-0 (11-9, 11-3, 11-7).
World number one Liu Shiwen then disposed of Petrissa Solja 3-0 (11-3, 11-5, 11-4) before the doubles pair of Liu and Ding beat Shan and Solja 3-1 (11-6, 11-5, 9-11, 11-7) as Germany won their first and only game of the final.
Li Xiaoxia, the world number three, gave China a flying start against the eighth-ranked Han.
Han’s defensive chopping style of play that proved so effective in earlier matches, including against Hong Kong, was nullified by Li’s ability to return with top spin.
The only time Han troubled the Chinese player was in the third game when she took her opponent to 8-8.
The 28-year-old Li, however, was unwilling to stretch it to a fourth and allowed her opponent just one more point in a 11-9 victory.
Liu Shiwen, the two-time world championship singles runner-up in 2013 and 2015, who was not part of China’s Olympics singles squad, was even more devastating in the first game against Solja, speeding to a 11-3 lead within minutes.
Solja, ranked 15th in the world, showed resolve and consistency in earlier rounds but against the quality of 25-year-old Li she was overwhelmed.
The Chinese needed only about 20 minutes to triumph.
Liu Shiwen and Ding then paired up to finish the job, allowing the Germans a token fourth game, much to the appreciation of the vocal crowd.
Liu admitted that they were happy for the fans that Germany won the third game.
“The fans come here and they want to see a competitive game,” she said.
“It makes it a bit more interesting. I admit I was a bit impatient for the gold medal and maybe that’s why we lost the game.
“But at least we won the match in the end.”
China will attempt to win a fourth table tennis gold in Rio when they take on Japan in the men’s team final on Wednesday.