China's Fan Zhendong returns against Lee Sang-su of South Korea during Wednesday's team final at the Asian Table Tennis Championships in Wuxi, Jiangsu province. China clinched a 10th straight continental team title with a 3-0 victory. [Photo/Xinhua]
WUXI, China - Table tennis powerhouse China duly retained the men's team title here on Wednesday, beating the South Korean squad coached by Kim Taek Soo 3-0 in the final.
It becomes the 21st men's team trophy lifted by China in a total of 23 editions of the continental tournament, and the 10th in a row.
Without Grand Slam winner Zhang Jike in the lineup for team final, the Chinese side kept overwhelming odds on paper with world No. 1-3 Ma Long, Fan Zhendong and Xu Xin to start against Jang Woo Jin, Lee Sang Su and Jeong Sang Eun.
"We sent the strongest squad here since the world championships in Dusseldorf, Germany is just one month away from now on," said China's new head coach Qin Zhijian for the men's team.
"The Asian championships use the same brands of balls and tables as the worlds, which made this event a best chance for our players to warm up for the world tourney," he added.
Although Zhang Jike is still struggling with an ankle injury, China, the top seed in the men's team event, fought their way to the podium without losing a single game.
In Wednesday's final, newly crowned Olympic champion Ma Long ended up as the only player from the hosts failing to wrap up his game in three straight sets.
The Chinese captain had to strain to win the first set 14-12 over Jang, and gave up his second set 11-4 before coming back 12-10 and 11-3 in the following sets.
Fan Zhendong and Xu Xin both made short work of their respective games, with the former beating Lee 11-8, 11-4, 12-10 and Xu, the only pen-hold paddler in world's top 10 rankings, trouncing Jeong 11-9, 11-6, 12-10.
South Korea, on the other hand, missed its only Top 10 player of the world rankings Jeoung Youngsik for the men's team final due to injury.
"I'm just satisfied with my team to have entered the final," said South Korean coach Kim Taek Soo after the match.
"My absence during the quarterfinals and semifinals made a bit difficulties to my team, but the players managed to carry out the tactics by themselves and beat Hong Kong, China and Japan to reach final, that made me very happy.
"We learnt a lot from the Chinese team, who's much better than us, as always," he added.