Gao Ning has an appetite for Olympic Champions

Second big scalp for Gao Ning

Gao Ning (Singapore), aged 29,  and seeded a lowly 15 here is World ranked no. 18 and is best known in this country as  the 2007 Commonwealth Mens Singles Champion. He booked his place in the Mens Singles semi-finals at the ITTF Pro Tour Grand Finals. Having beaten Ma Lin, the 2008 Olympic Champion in the previous round he added a second famous name to his CV – that of 2004 Olympic Champion Ryu Seung Min (Korea) the World no. 15.

It was a day where everything went right for Gao Ning. He surged into a 2-0 lead winning the first two games narrowly 11-9, 16-14 and when you expected a real fight-back from the Korean star on this occasion he just couldn’t find another gear. Gao Ning scarcely put a foot wrong and he closed out the game 11-5, 11-7.

Gao Ning will meet the 2011 World Champion Zhang Jike (China) in his semi-final. The 23 year-old from Shandong looked to be heading for a straight-forward 4-0 victory over his illustrious countryman Wang Liqin as he powered his way through the first three ends : 11-3, 11-2, 11-6. Nothing Wang Liqin could do seemed to make the remotest difference.

However, Wang Liqin is not a three time World Champion for nothing. Perhaps nearing the end of his international career he was never going to succumb without giving it his all. The last two games were as good as you will see anywhere. Wang covered a huge amount of distance to stay in the rallies and he took the fourth end 11-6. With Wang looking ever more threatening Zhang Jike gave an indication why he became World Champion this year by winning the fifth game 12-10. Some match!

There can’t be too many tournaments when a player has beaten two Olympic Singles Champions on the march through to the semi-final. Zhang Jike will be very aware of this.

Steve Kerns