TOKYO, July 28 (Reuters) – China’s Chen Meng and Fan Zhendong, both first-time Olympians and world number one, advanced to the men’s and women’s singles semi-finals on Wednesday.
Chen had to dig deep and fight from behind to beat Hong Kong’s Doo Hoi Kem 4-2, as she campaigned to preserve China’s undefeated Olympic women’s singles record.
“Once I entered the playing arena, I felt myself tighten up. I felt nervous, my body was a little heavy,” Chen said.
“When I was down 2-0, even though I was pretty tight, I was determined. I took it one point at a time. In the Olympics, until the end point, anything can happen. I don’t give up, I can turn around. “
The match was repeatedly interrupted by the referee ordering Doo to cover a mark on his shorts with black tape, which kept falling off.
Doo said the distraction didn’t affect his game and was happy with his performance.
“I felt my performance was better compared to the last two games I played yesterday. I was able to practice all the tactics I had planned with my coach before the game, and I gave my all.” Doo told Reuters.
“At one point I had a chance to win – but the thought of winning distracted me from holding onto that chance,” she said.
In men’s singles, Fan beat 29-year-old South Korean Jeoung Youngsik in a 4-0 sweep.
“I was able to play a regular game, as I expected. I knew it would be a tough game because it was against the best player in the world who played at the Rio Games. I made sure to prepare myself in making adjustments for my tactics, ”Fan told Reuters.
“A game is a game. For me, it doesn’t matter if it’s the quarter-final, the semi-final or the first round, I just focus on that game,” he said.
The 24-year-old said he had unusual methods of “turning all the pressure into motivation”.
“Sometimes it can be striking a pose or talking with myself. I do things that make me feel positive right away,” he said.
Chen’s opponent in the semi-final on Thursday will be Yu Mengyu, a Singaporean paddler who beat Japan’s Kasumi Ishikawa in the quarter-final, while Fan’s opponent has yet to be decided.
Reporting by Eimi Yamamitsu; Editing by Stephen Coates
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