Guo's win seals table tennis medal sweep for China
BEIJING (AP) China clinched all three medals in women's singles table tennis at the Olympics on Friday.
Guo Yue beat Singapore's Li Jia Wei 11-6, 14-12, 9-11, 7-11, 11-3, 11-4 to take the bronze and seal the sweep. China's Zhang Yining and Wang Nan were playing for the gold later Friday night.
China has always been dominant in its national sport of table tennis. But it has swept all three medals only once before, in the women's singles event at the 1988 Seoul Games.
A medals sweep was also possible in the men's singles event, after the hosts rolled over their competition Friday to set up a semifinal round with only one non-Chinese athlete.
Guo, ranked No. 2 in the world, struggled at times against Li, the world's sixth-ranked player. The match featured many fast rallies, with Guo overpowering her opponent with blistering topspin shots to the corners.
The gold medal match will be a showdown between two of the best athletes in table tennis - Zhang is playing for her fourth Olympic gold medal and Wang will be competing for her fifth.
Top-ranked Zhang defeated Singapore's Li earlier in the day to dispatch the only non-Chinese player still remaining in the competition. Wang advanced after beating her young teammate Guo.
The three players on the Chinese men's team head into the semis following big quarterfinal wins.
"It's the Great Wall," said the lone non-Chinese to advance, Sweden's Jorgen Persson. "But look at the history of the Olympics. In the five gold medals (in the men's singles event), two are Chinese, two are Korean and one is Sweden. So they are strong, but it's breakable."
Persson will play world No. 1 Wang Hao. World No. 4 Wang Liqin will play No. 2, Ma Lin, who advanced after defeating South Korea's Oh Sang Eun, 11-3, 11-5, 11-9, 12-10.
Oh has been the only player so far in the Olympic competition to cause any problems for the Chinese. The Korean took Ma to five games during the team event, but lost 3-2.
"I prepared for a lot of difficulties because his level of play is close to mine," Ma said. "He had been playing very well, from singles and teams he's only lost two games, both to me."