Hong Kong's top player, Wang Chen, scraped into the third round of the All England championships in Birmingham yesterday with a 2-1 win over Cheng Shao-chieh of Taiwan. The world number four took the first set comfortably, 21-14, but the Taiwanese came back strongly to level, 21-17. The deciding set was finely balanced until the more experienced Wang captured the big points in the closing stages to wrap up the match 21-18. Meanwhile, the surprising early exit of China's top two women's singles player would dent their confidence as they prepare for the Olympics, a top mainland official acknowledged yesterday. World number one Xie Xingfang and Athens Olympic champion Zhang Ning crashed out in the first round in Birmingham and neither player has won a title this year. Xie lost to Hong Kong's Yip Pui-yin, while the Netherlands' Yao Jie sent Zhang packing. 'Before, everybody feared them, but the situation has changed dramatically over the past couple months,' said Liu Fengyan, director of the Table Tennis and Badminton Administration Centre, who is in Hong Kong for this week's Olympic table tennis qualifying event. 'Once you have lost a couple of times, it shows you are vulnerable and your opponents will start attacking you on the court with more confidence. You will have a very difficult time.' Zhang, 33, also suffered a humiliating defeat in the opening round of the Malaysian Open when she lost to Hwang Hye-youn of South Korea, and in the Korean Open, she was defeated by Hong Kong's Zhou Mi in the quarter-finals. Xie, 27, missed both those tournaments because of injury. 'Xie and Zhang have a hectic qualifying schedule. They also do not have sufficient recovery time between tournaments, which has affected their fitness,' said Liu. Reigning world champion Zhu Lin and Lu Lan are challenging Xie and Zhang for berths on the Olympics team. Liu admitted it was still too early to say who would represent China in Beijing. The qualifying period ends next month. 'There are two younger players in contention but they need more experience,' said Liu. 'We will make a decision only after considering all factors.'