It’s not as notorious as golf, but table tennis is a sport that values silence. Players are accustomed to a quiet crowd that lets them concentrate completely on the task at hand. When the partisan support got too loud Saturday cheering for Brazilian Gui Lin, she had to raise her hand to ask them to simmer down.
Table tennis officials found a solution to the noise problem during Hugo Calderano’s match in front of his home fans Sunday morning.
They held all other matches.
Instead of rolling out the third block of matches as tables opened up, officials let Calderano finish his five-game victory over Sweden’s Par Gerell as the only court in action. Calderano rode the raucous home support to a 3-0 lead and finished off the Swede in a tight fifth game. The Rio native now advances to the third round, where he’ll take on the 11-seed Tang Peng of Hong Kong.
There were a pair of engrossing encounters in the men’s field. Koki Wang was able to stave off Nigeria’s Segun Toriola in six games. After dropping the first game, Wang roared back to take a 2-1 lead. The duo split the next two games before the man from Japan ran away with the conclusive sixth,11-1.
The most compelling matchup was found on table three, where Spain’s He Zhiwen faced a man less than half his age in the form of Chinese Taipei’s Chen Chien-An. After the latter smashed his way to a 2-0 lead, He fought back to win game 3. The games that followed were some of the longest of the morning session, with Chen doing his best to wear down the elder statesman, and He using his guile and experience to steal points wherever he could.
In the end, youth won out as Chen took two of the final three games to score a 4-2 victory.
Team GB’s Liam Pitchford survived and advanced in five games against Uzbekistan’s Zohkid Kenjaer. Pitchford, one of two remaining members of the British table tennis contingent, will meet ninth-seeded Jung Young-Sik of South Korea in the third round.
Panagiotis Gionis of Greece needed just 19 minutes to sweep aside Thailand’s Padasak Tanviriyavechakul. There were also shutout wins for Jonathan Groth (DEN), Eugene Wang (CAN), and Li Ping (QAT).
Afternoon table tennis gets under way at 12:30 PM ET, with all matches streaming live at NBCOlympics.com.
Day two of Olympic table tennis kicked off Sunday morning with a quartet of matches from the second round of women’s singles. It was the most competitive slate of matches to date at the Riocentro, with a pair of contests going the distance.
The most enthralling match of the morning was found on table four. Down 3 games to 2 and facing five match points, Thailand’s Nanthana Komwong battled back to win seven straight and force a winner-take-all game 7, where she outlasted a visibly dejected Fu Yu of Portugal.
Li Fen (SWE) was also a winner in a marathon bout over Balazova (SVK). Li was down 2-1 and 3-2 in the match, but fought her way through a 12-10 slugfest in the sixth before coasting to victory in game 7.
Chinese Taipei’s Chen Szu-Yu was the beneficiary of a comprehensive collapse as she stormed back down 0-2 to win in six games against Belarus’s Privalova Alexandra. After four close games to open the match, the Belarusian sleepwalked through the final two games of the tilt, losing both games 11-5.
While the fourth match of the morning went to France’s Li Xue in a 4-0 sweep over Puerto Rico’s Diaz Adriana, it was far closer than the score indicated. After a blowout game 1, the remainder of the match was entertaining and competitive, with multiple rallies of more than a minute.
Table tennis action continues all day Sunday with men’s singles action streaming live on NBCOlympics.com.