Dragon breathes fire at Nakheel Asian TT

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Dragon breathes fire at Nakheel Asian TT
Zhang Jike completes all-China finals lineup.

Dubai - All-Chinese men's and women's singles finals at DWTC

By Moni Mathews

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Published: Fri 29 Apr 2016, 8:03 PM

Last updated: Fri 29 Apr 2016, 10:07 PM

China dominated the semifinals of the Nakheel Table Tennis Asian Cup with flawless displays at the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) on Friday.
First into the all-Chinese finals scheduled for 3.30pm / 4.40pm starts today (Saturday), was top seed Liu Shiwen who swept aside the challenge put up by Hong Kong's Tie Yana 4-0 (11-1, 11-5, 11-7, 11-4) in the women's semis.
From the semifinal stage, the matches are best of seven-set encounters with 11 again being the winning point. On deuce it will be a difference of two points that separates the set winner.
Defending champion Feng Tianwei of Singapore was shown the exit door though she managed to match and beat Olympic gold medallist Li Xiaoxia (China) in the second and fifth sets before bowing out 2-4 (7-11, 11-4, 5-11, 11-9, 6-11, 8-11).
Chinese world number three Xu Xin, after being at the receiving end in the first set when he lost 8-11, came back strongly to down Singapore veteran Gao Ning Sin 4-1 to make the men's summit round.
And, to complete the Dragon brigade lineup for the title rounds, Zhang Jike took some time before chalking out a hard fought 4-2 victory over Hong Kong's Wong Chun Ting.
"I have not reached anywhere near the kind of form that could win medals at an Olympics. I have still a long way to go before I can even think of being medal worthy as of now," said a modest Liu whose immaculate and lightning fast shot making was a sheer delight for the packed gallery.
Liu's anticipation levels stand at an amazing level where she is a split second quicker than her rivals. Sometimes she anticipates so quickly that her racquet is placed well ahead of the return through sheer reflex action, in front of the trajectory of the ball, and only the occasional uneven bounce or unexpected low skid off the edges denies her of more soft points.
Tall and big made Li can baffle opponents when she as a slow starter takes time to get into a rhythm, often giving a false impression of the reserves of talent and skills that are at her disposal.
"Feng's style and approach are now familiar things for us and I knew she has a great service return which tonight (Friday) was not that effective," said Li.
In men'sand women's action in the morning, the top two in each group made it to the last eight stage. 
Zhang assured of the top spot with three wins in Group 2, his final victory being a straight set 3-0 (11-7, 11-2, 11-8) workout India's Sharath Kamal Achanta leaving Korea's Lee Sangsu having to defeat Hong Kong's Wong to secure the vital second place. Lee showed his mettle to win in three straight games (11-9, 13-11, 11-4).
As expected Xu won Group 1 ahead of Chiang Hung-Chieh of Chinese Taipeh, with Jun Miztani of Japan the no.4 seed, overcoming Gao Ning 3-0 (11-7, 11-4, 11-5) to top Group 3 ahead of Gao.
In the vital contest to determine first place in the Intercontinental Group, India's Soumyajit Ghosh beat Iran's Nima Alamian 3-2.
Liu downed Korea's Lee Zion 3-0 (11-5, 11-7, 11-4) for top berth in Group 1, ahead of Miu Hirano who accounted for Tie 3-0 (11-5, 11-7, 11-4). Tie finished in third position.
Likewise, Li Xiaoxia, accounted for Noura Almaazi, from the United Arab Emirates (11-4, 11-5, 11-4) and thus topped Group 2. In the contest for second and third positions, Singapore's Yu Mengyu, the no.8 seed, defeated Korea's Yang Haeun, the no.5 seed (8-11, 11-8, 11-3, 11-8). In Intercon women's group play, India's Manika Batra upset Thailand's Suhasini Sawettabu 3-0 (11-7, 11-5, 11-8).

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