China are assured of a clean sweep of medals in the women’s singles at the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) World Championships, but men’s top seed Fan Zhendong failed to reach the quarter-finals in Budapest.
Attention was focused on the women’s singles quarter-finals at the Hungexpo venue in Hungary’s capital city.
Rio 2016 Olympic champion Ding Ning ensured she remained on course for a third straight world title.
She achieved an 11-8, 4-11, 11-2, 11-7, 11-9 win over Japan’s teenage talent Miu Hirano, the bronze medallist two years ago in Dusseldorf.
Ding will next face compatriot Liu Shiwen, a four-time Asia Cup champion.
Fourth seed Liu also saw off a Japanese opponent, defeating Miyu Kato 11-9, 8-11, 11-4, 11-6, 11-5.
The second semi-final will also be an all-Chinese clash, with second seed Chen Meng facing Wang Manyu.
Chen held off Hong Kong’s Doo Hoi Kem to win 9-11, 11-7, 11-7, 8-11, 12-10, 11-4, while third seed Wang beat compatriot Sun Yingsha 11-9, 10-12, 21-19, 11-6, 9-11, 11-8.
While China will sweep the women’s singles medals, Xu Xin’s shock elimination yesterday meant the men’s final would not feature two Chinese players for the first time in 16 years.
World number one Fan was on the end of another surprise result today, as his hopes of a maiden individual world title were ended.
Fan had been aiming to improve on the silver medal he had won in 2017, having also earned bronze two years earlier.
The 22-year-old had won his first three matches at the tournament without losing a game, but then lost three consecutively to compatriot Liang Jingkun.
He proved unable to recover against the ninth seed, as Liang clinched a 5-11, 11-4, 11-8, 11-9, 8-11, 11-7 victory.
Liang will next face Japan’s Koki Niwa, who beat Croatia’s Tomilslav Pucar in a six-game match.
The winner will take on either defending champion Ma Long or third seed Lin Gaoyuan, after they progressed impressively.
Lin won all four games against South Korea’s Jeong Young-sik, while Ma bounced back from losing the opener to beat Brazil’s Hugo Calderano in five games.
South Korea are assured of a semi-finalist with the unseeded An Jae-hyun progressing to the last eight, after stunning fourth seed Tomokazu Harimoto of Japan 11-7, 3-11, 11-8, 11-7, 8-11, 11-9.
It leaves his fellow South Korean Jang Woo-jin as the highest-ranked player in the bottom half of the draw, after the 10th seed received a walkover.
He had been due to face Germany’s Timo Boll, but the 38-year-old was forced to pull out due to a fever.
France’s Simon Gauzy, who beat Xu yesterday, will face Sweden’s Mattias Falck in the last quarter-final match.