MOSCOW – No chance for Japan when facing China on the other side of the table.
Japan was outclassed by powerhouse China 3-0 in the men’s semifinals of the World Team Table Tennis Championships on Saturday.
Japan has ended with a bronze medal since there is no third-place match in the biennial team event.
Beijing Olympic singles champion Ma Lin defeated Kaii Yoshida 11-6, 9-11, 11-8, 11-2 in the opening match.
World No. 1 Ma Long followed with an 11-6, 11-9, 11-8 rout of top Japanese player Jun Mizutani before Zhang Jike sealed China’s victory by beating Seiya Kishikawa 11-8, 9-11, 11-3, 11-8.
“The outcome made me realize there’s still some gap between China and Japan in every aspect of play,” Japanese head coach Yoshihito Miyazaki said. “We went through a lot of tough matches in this tournament. We definitely learned a lot from this meet.”
China is looking for its fifth consecutive men’s world title.
On Friday, the Japanese women’s team prevailed in a five-hour marathon against archrival South Korea 3-2, booking a place on the medal podium for the fifth consecutive world championships.
Four of the five matches needed the full five games, and Ai Fukuhara won the last match of their quarterfinal 11-6, 11-13, 11-8, 11-4 against Park Mi Young.
Fukuhara and Sayaka Hirano both lost to world No. 6 Kim Kyung Ah, but the Japanese duo both defeated Park in the reverse singles while 17-year-old Kasumi Ishikawa fought back from two games down to win the third match against Dang Ye Seo.
“We clinched a medal by beating South Korea. This is the best feeling I’ve ever had at the world team championships,” Fukuhara said.
Japan fell to South Korea in the bronze medal match at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
“Sayaka and Kasumi managed to take the series into the decider, so I knew I had to pull off a win no matter what,” Fukuhara said.