“Men’s table tennis is a blast!” China sweeps France 3-0, ’11th straight win’

“China will win the title anyway,” men’s table tennis was no different.

After a thrilling victory over South Korea, China reached its 15th consecutive Busan World Table Tennis Championships final on Friday, defeating the Lebrun brothers of France 3-0 in the men’s team final at Bexco to complete its 11th consecutive title.

The French men’s and women’s table tennis teams were in high spirits ahead of the Paris Olympics. The French women won bronze and the men reached the final. Led by 17-year-old Félix Lebrun and 23-year-old Alexi Lebrun, the French made waves by breaking the seal and reaching the final. Before the match against China, France’s coach promised to “show them some delicious French culinary delights”. Felix, who upset top-ranked Chinese Taipei player Lin Yun-chu in the quarterfinals the day before, also said, “The Chinese players are great, but I will do my best to play one player without thinking about who they are.”

In the first singles, right after the Chinese players ranked 1-5, World No. 6 Felix LeBron faced World No. 2 Wang Chuqin – not the same Wang Chuqin who had been swept aside by Zhang Wujin the day before. He dominated Felix in the number one spot, winning the game 3-0 (11-4, 11-8, 11-3) in 28 minutes.In the second singles, Alexi, the older brother of the Lebrun brothers, faced the world number one Fan Zhendong. After taking the first game 11-9, he roared back. He dropped game two at 4-11 but rallied brilliantly in game three to take it 6-2, 8-5. At 10-6, the French bench called a timeout after Fan Jiandong scored two straight points on serve to close to 10-8. He closed it out at 11-8. She matched Fan Jiandong in backhand topspin. For the first time in the tournament, the “Iron Wall” Pan Zhen Dong, who had held his own against Korea the day before, faltered.

Game 4 was also a tense backhand battle at 4-4, 5-5. Alexi, armed with grit, speed, and power, gained the upper hand in backhand spin after the midway point to take an 8-5 lead. The experienced Fan Jiandong forced her opponent into a unforced error to level the score at 8-8. At 9-9, Alexi weathered a storming rally to take match point, but Pan Zhendong’s backhand was scary. After a 10-10 deuce game, he broke back to 11-10 with a forehand topspin, but then Alexi’s drive sailed wide, 12-10, Fan Zhendong. It was a decider. Pan Zhendong roared, taking the last five games 11-7. The full-set thriller was a treat for the world’s table tennis fans, but the “strongest man in the universe” was not to be denied.

The third singles match pitted two-time Olympic champion Marong against the veteran Simone Gaultier, the eldest Frenchman. Pushed to the brink, the French captain came through. He took the first game 11-7. However, Ma Rong, who had a strong second game, leveled the match with an 11-2 victory, then took the third game 11-4 and the fourth game 11-6 to win the game 3-0 and the match 3-0.

Once again, China’s men’s table tennis team faltered but did not collapse. The Chinese men’s team only dropped two games in the quarterfinals against South Korea, winning 3-2, but otherwise won the entire tournament 3-0, with world No. 1 Fan Zhendong not dropping a single game. The Chinese, who have not won a World Championship team gold medal since Osaka 2001, completed their 11th consecutive title in Busan by lifting the trophy they had promised. “I had a difficult match yesterday in the semifinals, but Wang Chuqin did a great job in the first match today, and I had a really exciting match with Fan Jiandong and Alexi Lebrun in the second singles. It was only one day after yesterday’s match (losing to Lee Sang-soo in the semifinals of the quarterfinals), but it was a long day for me, and I was able to believe in myself until the end and finish well. Thank you to all the fans,” he said to a round of applause from the Chinese fans.


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