YOKOHAMA, Japan, May 2 (Xinhua) -- China clean-swept semifinal berths at the mixed doubles event at the world table tennis championships here on Saturday despite benching all of its doubles experts.
China pulled three versatile players off the doubles events, deliberately making the Yokohama championships more open.
Wang Liqin, Ma Lin and Zhang Yining, who have involved in nine doubles victories in the world championships, didn't enter a doubles competition at all, while Wang Hao, Ma Long, Guo Yue and Li Xiaoxia skipped the mixed doubles, making Hao Shuai and Chang Chenchen the highest seeded Chinese pair at fifth.
Hao/Chang edged out top-seeded Hong Kong pair Ko Lai Chak and Tie Yana 11-6, 11-9, 12-10, 8-11, 11-5.
Theoretically, Hao/Chang had the toughest task.
Ko and Tie form what in many experts' eyes is the ideal combination, while Hao and Chang do not. The latter duo is a unit of two lefthanders while Ko is a left handed penholder and Tie Yana a right-handed shake hands grip player, both are attacking topspin exponents.
That was just the theory. The reality was that Chinese pair held the aces in the crucial areas of table tennis.
Hao/Chang will take on Zhang Jike/Mu Zi, the 11-7, 14-12, 11-6, 11-8 winners over Germany's Christian Suss/Elke Schall.
Li Ping/Cao Zhen made short work of teammates Xu Xin/Fan Ying, winning 11-7, 11-6, 11-8, 11-7.
Zhang Chao/Yao Yan survived a tough battle, beating Slovakia's Lubomir Pistej/Eva Odorova 6-11, 13-11, 6-11, 11-5, 11-7, 9-11, 11-7.
"China didn't send the most experienced players to the mixed doubles event, but these boys and girls are still too strong," said Yao Zhenxu, a Chinese official with the International Table Tennis Federation.