China will meet Germany in the women’s table tennis team final on Tuesday, intent on extending their domination of the event which they won in both Olympics since its introduction in 2008.
The Chinese team, made up of individual gold and silver medallists Ding Ning and Li Xiaoxia plus world number one Liu Shiwen, beat Singapore’s Feng Tianwei, Zhou Yihan and Yu Mengyu 3-0 in Monday’s semi-final.
“The three of us together are very strong, while breaking through one of us is possible, breaking through us three will be very difficult. So winning three out of five games against us will not be easy,” said China’s Li Xiaoxia, for whom the final will probably be her last game before retirement.
On Sunday Germany edged out 2012 silver medallists Japan with a controversial return ball that grazed against the table edge, giving them the winning point by millimetres. The point was heavily contested by Japan’s Ai Fukuhara but her protest was rejected by the referee.
Li said the Chinese team had anticipated the possibility of Germany scoring an upset in the semi-final as their new generation of players, two of whom hail from China, are very strong.
No matter what the result, Germany will win its first ever women’s Olympic table tennis medal. Singapore play Japan for the bronze medal match.
“In recent years, from 2012 to now, we have been behind our rivals in terms of competition results,” said Singapore’s Yu. “But tomorrow we will play our best with an open mind, it’s the Olympics after all, every competitor’s state of mind will be different from the norm.”