CHENGDU, 5 October (BelTA - Xinhua). - China advanced as group winners into both the men's and women's round of 16 as the group stage entered the final stretch at the 2022 World Team Table Tennis Championships here on Tuesday.
The Chinese men's team, vying for their 10th consecutive world title in Chengdu, ran out comfortable winners over Thailand 3-0, despite the fact that China had guaranteed to go top no matter the result of their last Group 1 match.
World No. 1 male paddler Fan Zhendong beat Sarayut Tangcharoen in straight sets, 11-9, 11-8, 11-6. His teammates Lin Gaoyuan and Liang Jingkun both claimed 3-1 victories against Phakpoom Sanguansin and Pattaratorn Passara respectively.
"My opponent played an excellent game, and it's not as easy as the scoreboard might have suggested," Fan said.
According to a draw made later on Tuesday, China will take India in the round of 16 after the latter lost its last Group 2 match 3-0 to France and advanced as one of the best third-placed teams.
"There are more challenges and tougher rivals waiting ahead, and my teammate and I will make fully detailed preparations for every possibility," added the 25-year-old top paddler.
Their women's counterparts also prevailed in the last round of group matches, taking easy work of Malaysia 3-0 to top Group 1 and having been drawn to play Group 2's third-placed Hungary in their first knockout showpiece.
Reigning Olympic runners-up Japan, bronze medalists Hong Kong, China, Singapore, Germany and Chinese Taipei, as well as the tournament's opening-day headliner Ni Xialian and her Luxembourg team, all made it to the women's team last 16.
Also on Tuesday, fifth-ranked Hugo Calderano proved himself one of the hot favorites in men's leading players, beating Slovakia's defensive ace Wang Yang 3-0 and leading Brazil to triumph 3-0 in a winner-takes-it-all match.
Brazil followed group leaders Portugal's pace to advance and will face Group 3 winners Japan in the battles for a men's team quarterfinal spot.
In other men's last 16 encounters, South Korea will play against Poland, France meets England, Germany faces Croatia and Hong Kong, China takes Egypt.