The World Championships begin in the Palais Omnisports in Paris today with Hong Kong's chances of a repetition of their Asian Games gold medal in the mixed doubles reduced by a difficult draw. Tie Yana and Cheung Yuk, who claimed the first ever table tennis gold at the Asiad in Pusan last October, will have to repeat at least half of their heroics just to get into the medals again. If the matches go according to seeding, Tie and Cheung, who will open their campaign against a pair from the qualifying rounds tomorrow, will face one of the players they defeated in the Asian Games final as early as the last 16. Ryu Seung-min of South Korea had to settle for silver when he and Ryu Ji-hae lost in seven games to Tie and Cheung in Pusan. This time the world number 12 has paired with Suk Eun-mi, who is rated 36 places below Ryu Ji-hae in the women's rankings. Should the Hong Kong pair triumph, the quarter-finals will probably see them line up against Wang Nan, who together with the defending men's singles and men's doubles champion, Wang Liqin, suffered a surprise exit in the Asian Games semi-finals at the hands of Tie and Cheung. This time Wang, the women's world number two, is partnered by Ma Lin, who holds the same rating among the world's men. The mixed doubles draw has not been any kinder to Hong Kong's other mixed doubles pairings. Both Lau Sui-fei and Li Ching and Kwok Fong-fong and Ko Lai-chak are likely to face two Chinese pairs before they can even think about medals. Lau and Li have Li Jia and Wang Liqin followed by Li Nan and Wang Hao blocking their path, while Kwok and Ko have Niu Jianfeng and Qin Zhijian and then Fan Ying and Hou Yingchao obstructing their passage. Men's doubles Asian Champions Ko Lai-chak and Li Ching have a slightly easier run to the latter stages, with Czech duo Petr Korbel and Marek Cihakand Poland's Lucjan Blaszczyk and Tomasz Krzeszewski due to cross their path, but they should still have to overcome Ma Lin in the quarter-finals. Surprisingly, Ma is not paired with King Linghui with whom he won the Pro Tour Grand Finals last year, but instead joins up with Qin Zhijian. Cheung Yuk and Leung Chu-yan also have a similar obstacle in the last eight, assuming they get past Jens Lundqvist and Magnus Molin of Sweden and Taiwan's Chuan Chih-yuan and Chiang Peng-lung; they're scheduled to face the Asian Games semi-finalists Oh Sang-eun and Kim Taek-soo of South Korea. Another South Korean pair are a potential threat to Hong Kong's top women's doubles partnership of Tie Yana and Song Ah-sim. If all goes to plan and they defeat their opponents from the qualifying rounds and overcome Maria Fazekas and Zita Molnar of Hungary, they will then be up against Suk Eun-mi and Lee Eun-sil - the Asian Games gold medallists who defeated Zhang Yining and Li Nan in the final in Pusan. Once again the draw hasn't helped Lau Sui-fei and Kwok Fong-fong either. Li Ju, who won the World Championship with Wang Nin in 2001, will be waiting with Li Jia in the last 16. In the singles, Tie Yana has the best chance after being seeded seventh in accordance with her world ranking. A qualifier, Hungary's Georgina Pota, Japan's Ai Fujinuma and then world number 11 Li Ju of China all stand in her way if results go to plan. Ko Lai-chak, the top ranked of Hong Kong's men at 28, has tough matches against Lee Chul-seung of South Korea and China's up-and-coming star Wang Hao, ranked seventh in the world. Cheung Yuk, meanwhile, will face the world number one - Germany's Timo Boll - if both win their first two matches.