Chinese women advance in Olympic table tennis

Aug. 20, 2008, 10:14 a.m. (ET)

BEIJING (AP) All three members of the Chinese squad advanced easily in the Olympic women's table tennis singles competition Wednesday, beating their lower-ranked opponents in straight games.

Defending gold medalist Zhang Yining, the top-ranked player in the world, needed only 25 minutes to beat Belarus' Viktoria Pavlovich. Zhang dominated her 34th-ranked opponent with speedy returns and near-flawless execution but insisted she had to work hard.

"When she chops at the ball, the shots are long and have a lot of spin and she doesn't hit them high. It's difficult to hit them hard," Zhang said after the 11-7, 11-2, 11-7, 11-5 win.

None of the other teams in the Olympic competition threatened China's path to the team gold, which it won Sunday.

But, Zhang said the singles event - where the loser of a match is eliminated - would be a challenge.

"The team competition was only a good beginning," she said. "This singles competition will be very tough. We'll definitely face some difficulties. So we can only take it one match at a time."

Zhang faces No. 12 Ai Fukuhara of Japan in the Round of 16 on Thursday. Fukuhara advanced by beating Hu Melek of Turkey 11-6, 11-8, 11-7, 9-11, 11-5.

Meanwhile, China's Wang Nan overpowered Hungary's Georgina Pota later Wednesday, winning 11-6, 11-7, 11-6, 11-2. She will play South Korea's Park Mi-young, a winner over North Korea's Kim Jong.

"Of course I'd like to beat Wang Nan. I have never won against Wang Nan before," Park said. "But no matter win or lose, I will do my best. I'd like to show the crowd a spectacular match."

Guo Yue of China defeated Lau Sui Fei of Hong Kong 11-2, 11-8, 11-6, 11-6. Guo will go on to face Li Jiao of the Netherlands.

Singapore's Wang Yue-gu, ranked No. 7 in the world, suffered a surprising 4-1 defeat Wednesday night to No. 50 Wu Xue of the Dominican Republic. Wang, whose team is coming off a silver-medal finish in the team event, refused to speak to reporters afterward.

"Maybe after winning the silver medal she was feeling more pressure," said Wu, who said she had never before defeated Wang. "I actually haven't been playing very well throughout this competition, so I wasn't expecting to win today."

"I was just thinking I would compete as best as I could and in the end, I played pretty well," she said of her 11-9, 9-11, 11-2, 11-8, 12-10 victory.

Wu will face Gao Jun of the U.S. in the round of 16. Wang Chen of the U.S. will match up with South Korea's Kim Kyung-ah, the world's top defensive player.