Updated: 05/19/2013 04:53 | By Agence France-Presse

Li, Shiwen in table tennis final, Chinese men on track

Olympic champion Li Xiaoxia knocked off top seed and title-holder Ding Ning in a thrilling contest to reach the final of the World Table Tennis Championships in Paris on Saturday.


Li, Shiwen in table tennis final, Chinese men on track

China's Li Xiaoxia waits for a serve from China's Wu Yang (R) on May 18, 2013 in Paris, during the quater-finals of the women's singles of the World Table Tennis Championships. Li won 8-11, 11-1, 4-11, 13-11, 11-6, 11-8.

Third seed Li had reduced Ding to tears after pipping her to the Olympic crown in London last August, and there was more heartbreak for the world number one as Li this time triumphed in the French capital with an exhilarating 8-11, 11-1, 4-11, 13-11, 11-6, 11-8 victory.

"I really wanted to win the last (sixth) game to make it to the final. I want to stay as long as possible to play in front of this audience, this is the biggest motivation I've got," Li told ITTF.com.

Her opponent in Sunday's title match will be second-ranked Liu Shiwen, who will be making her first appearance in the final after seeing off 18-year-old Zhu Yuling 11-8, 9-11, 11-9, 11-5, 11-8 with China already assured of winning all the medals in the women's singles.

"It wasn't as easy as the score shows. (It was) thanks to my fighting nature I won the match," said Liu.

Meanwhile, men's title-holder Zhang Jike moved into the quarter-finals by beating Austria's Robert Gardos 11-6, 6-11, 11-7, 11-5, 11-9.

Zhang, the Olympic champion, but seeded fourth after some inconsistent displays this year, will face Patrick Baum for a place in the last four after he upset London 2012 bronze medallist Dimitrij Ovtcharov in an all-German affair.

World number one Xu Xin swatted aside the challenge of Portugal's Marcos Freitas en route to a commanding 11-7, 11-5, 11-5, 11-7 success to earn himself a last-eight meeting with Japanese Kenta Matsudaira, who emerged in a thriller against Belarusian Vladimir Samsonov 3-11, 15-13, 12-14, 11-8, 11-9, 3-11, 11-8.

The third German to reach the last 16 and Europe's leading hope Timo Boll cruised into the quarters as he ruthlessly disposed of Japan's Seiya Kishikawa.

"It was almost the perfect match. I am very satisfied with the performance," said fifth-ranked Boll following his convincing 11-6, 11-7, 11-4, 11-3 victory.

The two-time World Cup winner faces China's Ma Long -- an 11-5, 9-11, 11-7, 9-11, 11-4, 11-7 winner over Japanese Koki Niwa -- in the next round, an encounter Boll is relishing.

"I'm where I want to be, playing against the Chinese and I'm really looking forward to tomorrow against Ma Long," said Boll.

"He has a very good serve. If I can read it well then I have a chance against him. Also, if I don't give him many easy points and attack his backhand then maybe I have a chance.

"I think I have the strengths to beat him in important matches," added the German.

The 2009 champion Wang Hao saw off Gao Ning of Singapore 8-11, 11-7, 11-6, 11-5, 11-3, while Yan An, another member of the formidable China squad, also advanced after powering past sixth-ranked Chuang Chih-Yuan of Chinese Taipei.

Earlier, South Korean mixed doubles pair Lee Sangsu and Park Youngsook extinguished China's hopes of completing a fifth consecutive clean sweep at the event as they ousted Wang Liqin and Rao Jingwen in the semi-finals.

However, they came up the short in the final as they were beaten by Kim Hyok Bong and Kim Jong from neighbouring North Korea, who claimed their country's first world title since 1977.

Austrian Werner Schlager's gold medal in the men's singles 10 years ago had represented the last title won by any country other than China.

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