XINXIANG, North China, May 5 (Xinhua) — Xu Xin and Liu Shiwen, the most promising mixed doubles pair to represent China at the upcoming Olympic Games in Tokyo, suffered a second-round exit at the Chinese table tennis Olympic simulation competition here on Wednesday.
The duo, who claimed the world title in 2019 in Budapest, were beaten in the first two sets 11-9, 11-8 to national teammates Zhou Yu and Chen Xingtong before managing a late comeback in the third, 11-5.
Trailing 10-6 in the fourth set, Xu and Liu nailed six points in a row to win the set 12-10 and tie on sets 2-2, but the top seeded pair made the same errors in the following, dropping points earlier in every set and finding it hard to come back.
The pair lost the quarterfinal encounter 11-9, 11-8, 5-11, 10-12, 16-14, 11-8.
“They are too nervous. Not as relaxed as we are, at least,” commented Zhou Yu in the post-match mixed zone.
“Maybe because the Olympic Games are coming soon, Xu Xin and Liu Shiwen can feel the pressure, which makes them struggle to play their regular game,” he assumed.
“I think it’s mostly my fault,” said Xu Xin while recalling Wednesday’s defeat. “I didn’t perform well in this competition, both in the singles and in the mixed doubles.”
“I’ll next work on my own techniques, especially when it comes to a doubles match, which is quite different from a singles one,” he said.
His mixed doubles partner Liu Shiwen, however, disagreed. “I don’t think it’s a problem of personal techniques. In my opinion, the most important thing for us is to believe in ourselves and to play our own game,” said the women’s singles world champion and five-time world cup winner.
The all-time leading Chinese team is expected to announce the squad for the Tokyo 2020 Games in the coming days, and the world mixed doubles champions, Xu and Liu, both of whom have participated in the previous Olympics, have high hopes.
Zhou Yu and Chen Xingtong will next play Lin Gaoyuan and Zhang Rui, who upset the third seeds Wang Chuqin and Wang Manyu 10-12, 11-5, 11-9, 7-11, 11-9, 11-6.
The other semifinal matchup on Thursday morning will pit Ma Te/Liu Fei, winners over Xu Chenhao/Wang Yidi 4-0, and the second seeded Liang Jingkun/Sun Yinsha, who beat Zhu Linfeng/Zhu Yuling, also in four straight sets. Enditem