Dubai: Top seeds Ding Ning and Ma Long stamped their class as Chinese players started well in the $1 million (Dh3.67 million) GAC Group 2013 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals at the Al Nasr Club here late on Thursday.
Ding was ruthless in her 4-0 (11-5, 11-5, 11-7, 11-6) win over Jiang Huajun, while Ma powered his way to an emphatic 4-1 (11-8, 11-6, 11-9, 6-11, 11-8) win over Japan’s Kazuhiro Chan in the men’s competition.
Joining Ding in the women’s singles quarter-finals were compatriots Zhu Yuling, Li Xiaoxia, Zhao Yan and Liu Shiwen, while Ma will have Zhang Jike, Xu Xin, Wang Hao and Fan Zhendong for company in the men’s last-eight.
Ma’s next opponent will be Olympic champion Zhang in what promises to be a thrilling encounter, while Wang will face Fan.
Standing in the way of the dominant Chinese are a Korean player, a Japanese and a Frenchman.
Kim Min-seok waged a grim battle before packing off European champion Dimitrij Ovtcharov 4-3 (11-8, 11-9, 6-11, 11-3, 5-11, 2-11, 11-9), to hand the German his fifth straight loss in this competition.
Masato Shiono scrapped past a gutsy Gao Ning of Singapore 4-3 to set up a quarter-final meeting with Kim, while consistent Frenchman Abdul Kader Salifou upset Brazil’s top player Cazuo Matsumoto 4-0 to set up a match with Xu.
The women’s competition will witness just one clash between Chinese players as Zhu takes on Li, whlie Ding will play Singapore’s Feng Tianwei, Zhao takes on Belarussian Viktoria Pavlovich and Liu lines up against Korean Jeon Ji-hee.
“The idea is to keep the momentum going as the competition is only going to get tougher,” Ding told Gulf News.
Pavlovich hopes to improve against Zhao despite recording a 4-0 win over Taipei’s Cheng I-Ching. “I am feeling good about my game and I will need to fight for every point,” she said.
Earlier, Frenchman Simon Gauzy joined Japan’s Masataka Morizono and Singapore’s Chen Feng in remaining unbeaten on the opening day of under-21 competition.
Gauzy started off with a 4-1 (11-8, 12-10, 13-15, 11-7, 11-8) win over Chinese Taipei’s Hung Tzu-hsiang and then sunk Singapore’s Wu Zhikang 4-2 (11-7, 10-12, 11-7, 7-11, 11-8, 11-8).
Chen blanked French player Quentin Robinot 4-0 (11-7, 11-5, 12-10, 11-9) and then overcame Belgium’s Julien Indeherberg 4-0 (11-3, 11-5, 11-5, 11-2).
Robinot crashed to a second defeat when he was beaten by Morizono 4-1 (15-13, 5-11, 11-7, 11-8, 11-2). The Japanese player had opened with a 4-0 (11-7, 11-8, 11-9, 11-8) thumping of Julien Indeherberg.
Ma Long bt Kazuhiro Chan 4-1, Zhang Jike bt Taku Takakiwa 4-1, Kim Min-seok bt Dimitrij Ovtcharov 4-3, Masato Shiono bt Gao Ning 4-3, Xu Xin bt Chuang Chih-Yuan 4-1, Abdel Kader Salifou bt Cazuo Matsumoto 4-0, Wang Hao bt Koki Niwa 4-1, Fan Zhendong bt Eugene Wang 4-2.
Ding Ning bt Jiang Huajun 4-0, Feng Tianwei bt Maria Dolgikh 4-3, Zhu Yuling bt Maria Bykova 4-0, Li Xiaoxia bt Ho Ching Lee 4-2, Zhao Yan bt Hyowon Seo 4-3, Viktoria Pavlovich bt Cheng I-Ching 4-0, Jeon Ji-hee bt Jiao Li 4-2, Liu Shiwen bt Elizabeta Samara 4-1