China reach men’s final despite Zhang defeat

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Olympic champion Zhang Jike suffered a shock defeat as China survived a couple of unexpected wobbles before beating Germany 3-1 to reach the final of the men’s team event on Monday. Zhang lost in four games to Timo Boll, the former world number one, but China recovered to beat Germany 3-1 and emulate their women, who reached their final by beating South Korea 3-0 in the morning.
Few visualised such a setback for Zhang, who only four days earlier had added the singles gold medal to his world title. Instead he found it impossible to contain the left-handed loops and hits of Boll from positions all over the table, and the German’s 8-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-8 victory ignited the match.
It put Germany and China level at 1-1, and when Boll and Bastian Steger took the first game in the doubles which followed, there was a hint of possible defeat for China, who not only hold the Olympic team title but have captured 18 out of 26 world team titles.
“For 20 or 30 minutes I was a little bit nervous,” said coach Liu Guoliang.
“But I actually thought the doubles was the more important match.