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China expected to dominate Yokohama worlds

WITH Olympic singles champions Ma Lin and Zhang Yining headlining a powerful world championship team, China is expected to maintain its dominance in table tennis that it highlighted last August in Beijing.

China won all the gold medals on offer in the table tennis event at the Beijing Olympics, and swept all the medals in the men's and women's singles behind Ma and Zhang.

The only other countries to pick up minor medals at Beijing were Germany, South Korea and Singapore.

China has 28 players entered for the world championships in Yokohama, and, not surprisingly, that includes 13 of the seeds.

Germany's Timo Boll, one of the major threats to Chinese dominance in the event, has pulled out because of a back injury.

The absence of Boll means China will have the top four seeded places in the men's singles along with the top four seeded spots in women's singles.

Singapore is a strong contender in the women's doubles, with No. 6-ranked Feng Tianwei and No. 9 Wang Yue Gu combining.

South Korea won the bronze medals in both the men's and women's team events in Beijing. Kim Kyung-ah, Park Mi-young and Dang Ye-seo, who made up the women's team in Beijing, are in Japan to contend for medals as well as the men's team of Oh Sang-eun, Joo Se-hyuk and Ryu Seung-min.

Japan failed to win a medal in table tennis at the Beijing Olympics but is hoping to use the home town advantage to break through to the podium at the worlds.

Ai Fukuhara, 31st in the world rankings, is the most prominent player in Japan but has yet to live up to the expectations since turning professional when she was just 10 years old. She will team with 19th-ranked Sakaya Hirano in women's doubles.

The April 28-May 5 world championships at Yokohama Arena will feature men's and women's singles, men's and women's doubles and mixed doubles.


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