China wins men’s team title for 11th straight time at table tennis worlds
Published: Feb 25, 2024 10:18 PM
Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

China cruised past France 3-0 to claim its 11th consecutive men's title at the ITTF World Team Table Tennis Championships Finals in Busan, South Korea on Sunday.

It was also a record-extending 23rd time that China has lifted the Swaythling Cup in history.

Facing off against France, who made the final for the first time since 1997, the trio of Fan Zhendong, Wang Chuqin and Ma Long helped China stretch its title-winning streak in the tournament.

Racing out of the starting blocks first, Wang set the tone early on with a commanding display in game one for an 11-4 win against 17-year-old penholder Felix Lebrun.

The second-ranked Chinese paddler got the ball rolling afterward, emerging victorious 11-8, 11-3 in the next two games to get past the sixth-ranked Lebrun to put China on the scoreboard.

Fan and Alexis Lebrun, Felix's older brother, were the next players at the ­table. Fan raced to an 8-4 lead in the first game, while his sportsmanlike action saw the momentum swing in his opponent's direction.

Initially earning one point to go up 9-4, Fan showed the umpire that it was actually an edge ball from Alexis, who instead pulled within 8-5. The French player then began to gain the upper hand and turned the tide 11-9.

But Fan was unfazed by the incident, prevailing 11-4 in the second game to restore parity. Trailing 5-10 in the third game, the world No. 1 notched three points in a row, forcing a timeout from Alexis, who steadied himself for an 11-8 victory.

In a match featuring spectacular rallies time and again, Alexis appeared to gain the momentum, but Fan, in an attempt to change the tempo, came back from 5-8 down with three straight points and even saved one set point at 9-10 before emerging victorious 12-10.

With the tie level at two games apiece, Fan regained his superior position and pocketed an 11-7 win in the decisive game, moving China one point away from its title defense.

France's hope of staying in title ­contention rested on the shoulders of ­Simon Gauzy, but it was denied by ­Chinese ­veteran Ma Long, who had 

won all of his four encounters with Gauzy.

Gauzy took the initiative with a 9-3 lead. Although Ma kept pushing hard to cut the gap, a forehand error saw the first game end 11-7 in Gauzy's favor.

Ma regrouped from there and putting his rival firmly on the back foot to pull off an 11-2, 11-4, 11-6 comeback win.

On Saturday, China claimed the women's team world title for the sixth straight and a record-extending 23rd time after surviving a full-set thriller to get the better of Japan.

"We tried our best for the game, and we even moved ourselves," said world champion Sun Yingsha in an after-game interview.