Hong Kong doubles stars Li Ching and Ko Lai-chak became the first casualties of China's new combination Wang Liqin and Hao Shuai as they crashed out of the opening round of the China Open in Guangzhou yesterday. The Chinese pair, who made it into the main draw after going through the qualifiers, were too strong for the second-seeded duo from Hong Kong, prevailing in a seven-set thriller, 11-1, 7-11, 3-11, 11-3, 11-9, 4-11, 11-7 and will now meet compatriots Hou Yingchao and Ma Long in the next round. China have been chopping and changing their doubles teams in search of the best combinations with the Olympics in mind. At the Singapore Open last week, for example, Ma partnered Wang. Coach Liu Guoliang said the plan was all part of preparations for the 2008 Bejing Games. 'There will be a change of playing format following the introduction of a team event for the Beijing Games,' Liu said. 'So this is a good opportunity for us to try different options in an open tournament to help us find a better formula.' It will be the first time that team events will be staged at the Olympic Games in 2008, with men's and women's team competition replacing the previous men's and women's doubles events. However, the doubles will still feature in the best-of-five team event and will be the pivotal third tie. The new team event will consist of a squad of five players. The players in the doubles must be different from those who take part in the first two singles matches. The remaining two singles must then feature a doubles player and a player from the first two singles or the fifth squad member who has not yet played a part. China are trying various combinations in the women's doubles as well. Reigning Olympic and world champions Zhang Yining and Wang Nan, who combined to capture the Singapore Open doubles title last week, were also separated in Guangzhou. Zhang and her new partner, Guo Yan, had little trouble in yesterday's opening round as they thrashed a Polish and German combination in straight sets, while Wang and Li Xiaohua won by the same margin against their Singapore opponents. Hong Kong's Tie Yana and Zhang Rui, who lost to Wang and Zhang in the Singapore Open final, overcame Moon Hyun-jung and Park Mi-young of South Korea 4-3 in a hard-fought, first-round win. Another Hong Kong pair, Lin Ling and Lau Sui-fei, also won through, defeating an Austrian pair 4-2.