Chinese star paddlers Ma Long and Xu Xin booked a semifinal encounter in men's singles, while Mima Ito of Japan used seven games to edge out China's Wang Yidi in women's singles quarterfinals at the ITTF Finals in Zhengzhou on Friday.
In a repeat of last year's World Championships final, Ma built a 7-1 advantage over Mattias Falck of Sweden en route to an 11-5 first game victory. Then Falck regained momentum and won 11-7, 11-5 in the next two games.
Ma leveled the match at 2-2 overall and led 10-4 in the fifth game. Falck displayed his fortitude and saved five game points, but Ma managed to escape from it with 11-9. In another roller-coaster sixth game, Ma saw three match points slip away while securing a 13-11 victory.
Xu drew level with Lin Yun-Ju of Chinese Taipei after four games. Then the second seed comfortably went through with 11-2 and 11-3 in the next two games.
"I didn't want to have many ups and downs. When he leveled the score at 2-2, I thought that I needed some changes," Xu noted.
World No. 1 Fan Zhendong won the first three games at 11-6, 13-11, 11-7 over Hugo Calderano. The Brazilian regrouped afterward to pull one game back at 11-9, but top-seeded Fan sealed his win by nailing the fifth game 11-9.
The exception was Lin Gaoyuan, who was stopped by South Korean Jang Woo-jin after a seven-game thriller. Jang will contend for a final spot with Fan.
Wang and Ito shared the spoils after two games. Wang built a 10-7 advantage in the third game. Despite Ito saving four game points, Wang set it 13-11, but Ito stayed in contention with an 11-4 fourth game win and led three games to two at 11-7.
Wang continued to mount pressure on Ito, forcing a deciding game with 11-7, but Ito steadied herself to lead 7-0 before winning 11-5.
"I had many unforced mistakes," rued Wang. "Leading 2-1, I didn't do a good job at the start of following games, which made it quite difficult to come back into contention."
Ito will next face another Chinese Wang Manyu, who dispatched Cheng I-Ching of Chinese Taipei 11-7, 11-7, 9-11, 11-6 and 11-6.
"I'm looking forward to tomorrow's match. Hopefully I can show my character and more determination to win," Ito explained.
Top-ranked Chen Meng and compatriot Sun Yingsha will meet again in less than half a month. Chen defeated Sun in the World Cup final in their latest meeting in east China's Weihai on Nov. 10.
Despite a great effort for coming back from 10-4 down, Chen conceded the opening game to Petrissa Solja of Germany 11-9.
Chen wasted two game points in the second game as Solja won four points in a row for 12-10 and a 2-0 lead overall.
But Chen bounced back strongly from there, nailing four consecutive games at 11-5, 11-5, 11-8 and 11-6.
Sun withstood huge pressure from South Korean Suh Hyo-won, rallying from one game down by pocketing the following three games to turn the match around.