The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Wang Nan makes it three in row
Austrian Werner Schlager dealt China a body blow by defeating reigning menís singles champion Wang Liqin in the table tennis world championships quarter finals in Paris Saturday. (AFP)

Paris, May 24 (Agencies): Chinaís Wang Nan became only the second player to win three world titles in succession when she beat compatriot and doubles partner Zhang Yining at the world table tennis championships on Saturday.

Wang, world ranked number two, won 4-3 (11/7, 11/8, 11/4, 5/11, 6/11, 8/11, 11/5) against the current number one, a winner of two World Cups.

The victory allowed her to emulate compatriot Chinese Deng Yaping, the only triple world champion before her in 1991, 1995 and 1997.

However, the sportís superpower has only one representative left in the hunt for the menís singles, with Olympic champion Kong Linhui in a semi-final match-up against Austriaís Werner Schlager.

Schlager prevailed over reigning menís champion Waqin Laqin in an epic seven setter.

The second semi-final pits Greeceís Kalinikos Kreanga against Koreaís Joo Se-Hyuk, who shrugged off his underdog status to beat Chen Weixing, a Chinese export to Austria.

Kreanga said: ďLetís hope thereís at least one European in the final, I donít care whether itís me or Werner!Ē

Later, Wang said that ďI learnt a lot from watching Deng play. But I donít think I can be compared to her. She won two Olympic golds in 1992 and 1996. I only have one. Weíll see how it goes in Athens.Ē

Wangís victory was hard fought. She had a perfect start, leading 3-0, before pressure started to mount and she let Zhang back into the match.

ďAt one time, I let pressure or emotion take over. But I kept believing in my chances,Ē added 24-year-old Wang who hinted she might retire after next yearís Athens Games.

On Friday, Wang had also won the mixed doubles gold with compatriot Ma Lin and she will be favourite for the womenís doubles title with Zhang on Sunday.

In the menís doubles, Chinese Wang Liquin and Yan Sen beat compatriots Wang Hao and Kong Linghui 4-2 (11-9, 11-8, 7-11, 11-6, 8-11, 11-5).

Liqin was heading for victory, leading 3-1 when Schlagerís version of the great escape began.

With the crowd rooting for him, the Austrian sixth seed pulled back to 3-2, adding the fifth set too, saving those four match points along the way.

After all his hard work he was not about to let his prey go and he duly took the sixth set for a memorable 5/11, 11/5, 8/11, 13/15, 11/9, 13/11, 11/5 success.

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