S. Korean men defeat India to reach knockout stage at table tennis worlds

February 19, 2024

The host country South Korea defeated India 3-0 to clinch a spot in the round of 16 at the table tennis world championships Monday.

South Korea made quick work of India to complete the group stage with a perfect 4-0 record at the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) World Team Table Tennis Championships at the Busan Exhibition and Convention Center in Busan.

Previously, South Korea had defeated Poland, New Zealand and Chile in succession.

There are 40 nations each in the men’s and women’s events. They have been divided into eight groups of five. After round-robin action, the eight group winners will advance to the round of 16, and the remaining eight spots will be filled by the winners of the round of 32 matches between the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds from the groups.

Teams are each carrying five players, but only three of them are eligible to play in each singles match.

A team match is made up of up to five singles matches in a best-of-five format.

In the opening singles Monday, Jang Woo-jin dispatched Harmeet Desai by the score of 3-0 (11-4, 12-10, 11-8). In the second game, Jang trailed 10-9, on the brink of letting Desai draw even, but rallied with three straight points to take it 12-10 and build a 2-0 lead.

“I lost against Desai in the last match (in June 2023) because I didn’t receive his services well and allowed attacks on the third ball,” Jang was quoted as saying by the tournament organizers. “As Desai has an aggressive play style, I used different receive strategies and tried to block his attacks.”

Lim Jong-hoon then defeated Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, also by 3-0 (11-5, 11-7, 11-7). Lee Sang-su dropped the second game against Sharath Kamal Achanta but went on to take the match 3-1 (11-9, 8-11, 11-6, 11-5).

“Today, I fought a battle against myself,” Lim said. “I’d been stressing over this match because India is a country on the rise. I even had a nightmare last night and didn’t get much sleep. But once the match started, I was able to settle down.”

Lee started looking forward to the knockout stage, saying, “There’s no easy opponent from this point on, but we’ll be prepared for any opponent.”

The South Korean women grabbed a ticket to the round of 16 on Sunday, thanks to their 3-1 victory over Puerto Rico.

The women’s side has won its first three matches, dropping just one singles match in the process. South Korea will close out the group stage Monday night against Cuba.