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World No. 1s make Olympic simulation finals, book berths at worlds

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NANYANG, China, May 30 (Xinhua) — World No. 1 male and female paddlers Fan Zhendong and Chen Meng both made the singles finals at China’s table tennis Olympic simulation here on Sunday.

24-year-old Fan overcame a slow start and some unforced errors to rally past rising star Wang Chuqin, 10-12, 12-10, 11-6, 6-11, 11-9, 12-10.

Fan could have wrapped up the match earlier as the 2016 World Cup winner led 6-4 in the sixth set but was overtaken the lead 10-6 by 21-year-old Wang. Fan then had to save four set points in a row before holding on to win the final set 12-10.

“I didn’t lose self-confidence even when I was trailing,” said Fan after the match.

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With this victory, the runner-up of the Olympic simulation in Xinxiang earlier this month secured a first-place finish in these two competitions ahead of the final and booked a place to represent China in November’s World Championships in Houston.

“Thank to the selection regulation, I can earn a berth at the worlds through my own efforts through the trials. It’s fair for everyone,” Fan said.

Earlier, Chen Meng, the Xinxiang trial’s winner in the women’s singles, came back from one set down to win 9-11, 12-10, 11-4, 11-3, 11-5 over He Zhuojia, who had ousted reigning world champion Liu Shiwen to reach the semis.

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Chen also booked a berth to the Houston world championships with an overall top finish in the trials in Xinxiang and Nanyang.

“[Chinese Table Tennis Association] president Liu Guoliang has requested me to complete a match within six sets, and I made it,” said 27-year-old Chen, who had eased past Sun Mingyang 4-1 and Wang Yidi 4-1 before advancing to the last four.

“I was a little bit nervous in the first set, but after pulling one set back, I felt relaxed and was able to play my table tennis in a comfortable way since both the opponent and I were back to start from scratch on 1-1.

“It was intense but also exciting, which is the right status to play a good game,” added the 2020 World Cup title holder, who will lead China in the women’s singles and team titles at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Later on Sunday evening, Fan will vie for the men’s singles title against world No. 2 Xu Xin, who denied giant-killer Xu Chenhao 4-1, while Chen plays against Wang Manyu after the latter upset Olympic singles selection Sun Yingsha 4-1.

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