South Korean men’s table tennis could not overcome the ‘Great Wall of China’ and settled for bronze in the team event at the Pyeongchang 2023 Asian Table Tennis Championships.
South Korea’s Jang Woo-jin (Invincible), Lim Jong-hoon and Ahn Jae-hyun (Korea Exchange) fell to China 0-3 in the semifinals of the men’s team event on the fourth day of competition at the Pyeongchang Dome in Gangwon Province on Saturday.
Korea’s team of Jang Woo-jin (No. 9), Lim Jong-hoon (No. 17) and Ahn Jae-hyun (No. 40), along with Oh Jun-sung (No. 91-Mirae Asset Securities) and Park Kang-hyun (No. 178-Korea Water Resources Corporation), clinched third place with the loss.
The event does not have a third- or fourth-place playoff, with all semifinal losers receiving bronze medals.
South Korea, which won the men’s team title at the 2021 edition in Doha, where China did not compete due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, failed to win its second straight title.
This is the first time in eight years that South Korea has been knocked out in the semifinals of the men’s team event at the tournament since Pattaya 2015. The Koreans reached back-to-back finals in Wuxi in 2017 and Yogyakarta in 2019, winning silver.
The Korean men will continue their medal hunt in the individual events, including singles, mixed doubles and men’s doubles.
They will face Chinese Taipei, who are coming off a 3-0 win over India, at 7 p.m. to be crowned Asian champions.
Men’s head coach Joo Se-hyuk is determined to go for the kill, starting ace Zhang Wu-jin at No. 1 singles.
Chinese Men’s National Team head coach Wang Hao sent his “next generation ace” Wang Chuqin (No. 2) to the No. 1 singles spot, while filling out the lineup with world No. 1 Fan Zhendong and “table tennis GOAT” Marung (No. 3).
Jang Woo-jin mixed hard hitting and unorthodox attacks to take two games, but ultimately fell 1-3 (7-11 11-9 6-11 7-11) to Wang Chuqin.
Playing in the second singles, Lim Jong-hoon battled to a full game against Pun Jeon-dong, but lost narrowly 2-3 (6-11 11-3 11-8 4-11 6-11). He pressured with a quick backhand to take the second and third games, but was unable to win the match.
This is the only match in the men’s team event so far where China has gone to five games.
China, who did not compete in Doha and have been competing in the men’s team competition since the qualifying rounds of the tournament, finished all of their matches with a “perfect win” after the first match of the qualifying rounds against Saudi Arabia, which was played with less physicality (China won games 1 and 2 with a 3-1 game score), with only a 3-0 game score to make the match score 3-0.
In the third singles, Ahn Jae-hyun was unable to overcome Marung’s experience and lost 0-3 (10-12 5-11 8-11).
After the match, Lim Jong-hoon said, “I focused on what I was good at, but my opponent was better. I need to make up the difference and compensate. I need points to overcome difficulties when things get tough.”
The Korean team finished the team competition with one silver (women) and one bronze medal.
In the Mixed Doubles, the ninth-ranked pair of Jang Woo-jin and Jeon Jeon-hee (Mirae Asset Securities), who were expected to medal, fell 2-3 (8-11 11-5 11-9 4-11 6-11) in the quarterfinals to the fifth-ranked pair of Lin Yun-ru and Zhu Zhiyou (Chinese Taipei).
Lim Jong-hoon-Shin Yubin (Korean Air) (No. 3) defeated Pakpum Sangguasin-Orawan Paranang (Unranked) of Thailand (No. 4) 3-0 (11-9 11-6 11-5) in the day’s quarterfinals to reach the semifinals and secure the bronze medal.
Next up for Lim and Shin will be China’s Liang Jinkun-Chen Tianyi (ranked 26th). Despite being ranked outside the top 20, the Chinese players are always strong regardless of their ranking, so a tough match is expected.
The match will begin at 6:30 p.m. on July 7.
The winning mixed doubles pair will qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. 토토사이트