Two China-U.S. pairs had different fates during the round of 16 in the mixed doubles at the world table tennis championships held in Houston, the United States on Friday.
Lin Gaoyuan and Lily Zhang cruised to victory, beating Russian duo Kirill Skachkov and Olga Vorobeva 3-1 and winning their tickets to the quarterfinals, while Kanak Jha and Wang Manyu were stopped by an Indian pair 3-2.
“The match today was very intense. We lost the second game though we took the lead in the beginning, which I think had an impact on us. But we made timely adjustments in the third game to control the situation. I think we played very well today,” said Lin, the men’s singles fifth seed.
“I think our teams played really well together. Considering our efforts as first-time pairing, I think we’re just taking it match by match, just growing stronger by every match and hopefully we can keep on going,” echoed five-time U.S. national champion Zhang.
Jha/Wang won the first two games against Sathiyan Gnanasekaran/Manika Batra, but only leaving the door open to their Indian opponents for a great comeback.
Despite losing the match, the pair looked on the bright side after the tough match.
“I think he improved with every match and became more familiar with the doubles. The opponents today implemented a unique style, but overall, I think Kanak performed very well in his first encounter with them,” said Wang, the newly crowned Tokyo Olympics women’s team champion.
“I think I learned a lot from Wang Manyu and also her coach. She’s very experienced in doubles as well. Of course, she’s an amazing single player but also doubles world champion. So for me, I was trying to pick up as much as I can,” said 21-year-old Jha, who won the U.S. national men’s singles title from 2016 to 2019 for a record four straight years.
The two pairs, who carry on the spirit of Ping-Pong Diplomacy initiated between the two nations half a century ago, were confirmed to enter the draw by the sport’s world governing body International Table Tennis Federation on Sunday and had just trained together once before the world table tennis championships.
The 2021 World Table Tennis Championships, in its 56th edition and the first competition held in the United States, will play on until Nov 29.