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Chuang advances to semifinals of Kaohsiung table tennis tournament

2014/01/04 22:33:10

(A short clip of the game, with two balls being played at one point:

Kaohsiung, Jan. 4 (CNA) World No. 9 Chuang Chih-yuan of Taiwan advanced to the semifinals of an invitational men's table tennis tournament in Kaohsiung on Saturday after defeating table tennis great Jean-Michel Saive of Belgium 4-0 in a light-hearted singles match.

After losing the first set 11-8, the 44-year-old Saive, who was ranked No. 1 in the mid-1990s, started to come up with funny moves to entertain the audience, including serving two balls at once, taking off his shirt and throwing a towel to fans.

Chuang, known for his more serious demeanor, responded to Saive's moves with his own antics, including hitting the ball slowly and changing the direction of the table, drawing laughs from the crowd of 3,000 people.

The 32-year-old Chuang, who was edged in an earlier match 4-3 by Japanese player Jun Mizutani, said the way Saive played in the exhibition match brought happiness to everyone.

Chuang will face German Dimitrij Ovtcharov, who defeated Chuang to win the bronze medal in the 2012 London Olympics, in Sunday's semifinals.

The winner of the tournament will earn the top prize of US$40,000.

Eight top international players, including Adrian Crisan from Romania, Sweden's Jorgen Persson and Ovtcharov, are competing at the invitational event sponsored by Taiwan Styrene Monomer Corporation.

With total prize money of US$105,000, the tournament is the highest-level table tennis event to be hosted in Taiwan. Admission at Kaohsiung's K-Arena is free.

(By Lee Yu-cheng and Maia Huang)