China’s Xu Xin and Zhang Jike won the semifinals at the 2016 Nakheel Table Tennis Asian Cup here.
Both Chinese players faced more resistance than in their matches before, with left-handed Xu defeating Singapore’s Gao Ning 4-1 (8-11, 11-7, 11-2, 11-4, 11-1) and Zhang overcoming Wong Chun Ting from Hong Kong 4-2 (7-11, 11-8, 5-11, 11-7, 5-11, 8-11) on Friday, reports Xinhua.
Gao said that despite his defeat, he felt the tournament gave him a motivational boost and more experience in his build-up to the Olympic Games in Rio.
Zhang was taken a bit by surprise by Dong’s fearless power play, but the Hongkonger made more mistakes than the world’s number four.
“I also sensed Zhang’s huge experience. Some balls I misjudged and that led to my wrong responses which then landed in the net or on the table,” said penholder Wong, currently ranked nine in global men’s table tennis.
Nevertheless, Wong left the court with his head up. “I learnt a lot during this 2016 Asian Cup and I really feel I improved during the tournament.”
While Wong tried to win the upper hand through a risky attacking play, Zhang tricked his opponent with dozens of slice shots which landed shortly behind the net, a tactic which led to scores most of the time.
“I know his playing style, that helped me to stay ahead of the game,” said 28-year old Qingdao-born Zhang.
No matter what will happen in the men’s final on Saturday evening, the winning nation of the 2016 Nakheel Table Tennis Asian Cup will be like last year China.