|Zhang Jike opens for China against Austria|
Image courtesy of ITTF
Zhang Jike opened affairs for the China team, playing defensive player Chen Weixing. Chen never really put a huge amount of pressure on Zhang Jike, though the 2011 World Champion went through phases of missing attacking strokes as his concentration seemed to dip. Jike made easy points by exploiting space down the line on a number of occasions and with overwhelmingly strong forehand attacking balls, proving too much for the defender, a 3-0 result for China putting them 1-0 ahead.
Ma Lin was second to play. Discussion gets interesting here. Ma Lin played Robert Gardos, a player who so far has had a fantastic run at the tournament. Gardos still having some issues with service legalities in his matches. Both players were focused though whether it was 100% or not can't be told. Both players fault served at crucial moments of the match, Ma Lin even so at 10-10. The sets were close and often Gardos accelerated off to a great start in each set and leads of up to 4 points on occasions, but the calculating veteran Ma Lin managed to make comebacks in each instance. Liu Guoliang didn't look too pleased with Ma Lin's performance, there were many errors in the match and Ma Lin certainly never had complete control until the last few points. With such a performance against a non-Chinese player at the World Championship, you have to wonder how much this damages Ma Lin's chances of playing in London 2012.
The last chance for Austria to save themselves would be in the hands of Daniel Habesohn who faced Ma Long. Moments of greatness from Habesohn, particularly in the 3rd set where he held Ma Long tied at both 8 and 9 before finally losing 11-9. China are the 3rd team to progress from their quarterfinal match into the semifinal.
An Interview with Chinese coach Liu Guoliang