China overcome blip to sweep team worlds
China team head coach Liu Guoliang (3rd R) raises the winning trophy with (L-R) Fan Zhendong, Wang Hao, Ma Long, Zhang Jike and Xu Xin during the awarding ceremony of the 2014 World Team Table Tennis Championships in Tokyo on May 5, 2014 - by Toshifumi Kitamura
In front of thousands of fans at Tokyo's Yoyogi Gymnasium, China's women blazed past hosts Japan but their redoubtable men's team had to battle past a determined Germany before retaining their title.
After Ma Long dispatched Timo Boll 11-6, 11-9, 11-9, a rout looked on the cards but China reckoned without Dimitrij Ovtcharov, who handed Zhang his first ever defeat at a world championships.
But Ovtcharov's stunning 13-11, 11-8, 11-6 win looked like counting for little when Xu Xin dismissed Patrick Franziska 11-5, 11-2, 11-9 to put China back in front.
And Ma quickly brought Ovtcharov down to earth when he beat the German in three straight games, 12-10, 11-5, 11-2, to seal China's 19th title in 24 final appearances.
Meanwhile China had fewer problems defending the women's title after Ding Ning weathered a storm against Yuka Ishigaki to take the opener in four games, 11-8, 8-11, 11-2, 11-5.
World and Olympic champion Li Xiaoxia beat Kasumi Ishikawa 11-8, 11-7, 11-7 and Liu Shiwen then finished the job when she outclassed Sayaka Hirano 11-4, 11-2, 11-5.
It extended the extraordinary run of the Chinese women, who have reached every world team final since 1963 and have raised the trophy 19 times.
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