S. Korean players hoping to catch China off guard at table tennis worlds

China has been so dominant in table tennis that the country has won every men's team world title since 2001, covering 10 consecutive tournaments. Overall, China has won 22 world titles, with Hungary a distant second on the list with 12. South Korea has yet to win one, and as the host country of this year's competition in the southeastern city of Busan, South Korea will have to go through China in the semifinals to have a shot at earning its first-ever world title. South Korea beat Denmark 3-1 in the quarterfinals of the International Table Tennis Federation World Team Table Tennis Championships at the Busan Exhibition and Convention Center (BEXCO) on Friday. China, boasting the top five men's singles players in the world, had knocked off Japan in the quarterfinals the previous day. The players themselves know they will be in for an uphill battle, but that doesn't mean they will go down without a fight. "Honestly, I don't think there is any way we can beat China if we try to match them power for power," said Lim Jong-hoon, who won two singles matches against Denmark. "We should try to catch them off guard and surprise them a little. I gave my 120 percent at the Asian Games (in China last year) and I will try to give my 150 percent effort this time." Jang, the top-ranked South Korean at No. 14, said South Korea could beat China once or twice out of 10 times, and added he hoped Saturday would be one of those rare occasions. "Even if we lose, we want to go down 3-1 or 3-2, and fight hard for our points," Jang said. "We want to give our fans here some hope." An Jae-hyun also conceded that the Chinese players are "ahead of us in many aspects, including power and speed." "We'll have to try to play shots that maybe the Chinese players won't necessarily expect from us," An added. China will likely send its three highest-ranked players, Fan Zhendong, Wang Chuqin and Ma Long, against South Korea. Jang and Lim have each beaten Wang once, but don't have a win against either Fan or Ma. Both South Korean players cal led for even more support from South Korean fans Saturday after thanking them for inspiring them to the win over Denmark on Friday. "Since we're playing at home, we have to use that to our advantage," Jang said. Lim said he was bracing for a huge throng of Chinese fans at BEXCO on Saturday. "I hope these fans don't get into any fights in the stands," Lim quipped. "We'll be out there battling and we hope our fans will have our back once again."

RECENT POSTS