China underlined their virtual invincibility in table tennis here today by winning two team titles at the Asian Games despite the twin challenges of a fired up opposition with nothing to lose, and a wildly enthusiastic home crowd cheering on their opponents.
There were times in the early stages of both finals in which they were under pressure, but with customary coolness and ruthless efficiency the Chinese fought back in style to extend a run that has seen them win the last six male team titles here, and six of the last female ones.
It was the women who were up first against Japan in a repeat of the World Team Championship final earlier this year, but, unlike on that occasion where they dominated throughout, 2011 world champion Ding Ning was immediately put under pressure, going down 2-0 in the opening rubber
And although she fought back in the third, precocious talent Ai Fukuhara, the Japanese Flagbearer at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, held her nerve to win a nail-biting fourth game for a 3-1 win.
That was as good as it got for the underdogs, however, as first world number one Liu Shiwen, and then 19-year-old rising star Zhu Yuling, won their matches to put China back in front.
It was then left to Ding Ning to return to the table to finish the job, which she did with aplomb, swatting away Japanese number one Kasumi Ishikawa 11-6, 11-7, 11-5 to make amends for her earlier loss.
"Before I came to the Asian Games, I practiced to be relieved in case of losing," she said afterwards.
"That's how I won the fourth sub-match even though I had lost the last match."
The subsequent men's contest began with an utterly scintillating opening match between Ma Long, who boasts one of the most devastating forehands in the world, and Joo Sae-hyuk, the 34-year-old stalwart who likes to move back from the table and return the ball with heavy slice, complemented by the occasional magnificent forehand counter loop.
In a classic case of attack versus defence, Ma won the first two games before Joo took the third, and came within an inch of the fourth when a stupendous block shot from the Chinese player just caught the table at game point down.
Ma eventually prevailed 17-15 to take a 3-1 win, and with it went any chance of South Korean success.
Despite the roars of the crowd, world number one Xu Xin beat Lee Jung-woo in 22 minutes, before reigning world and Olympic champion Zhang Jike required just a minute more to overpower Jeong Sang-eun for a 3-0 team victory.
The only question now remaining is which of these great Chinese superstars will prevail when friend becomes foe and they face-off in the singles competition.
Elsewhere, there was plenty more success for China on day 11, with three victories in sailing and two each in mountain-biking and diving, where the team remain on course to continue a remarkable run that has seen them win every Asian Games diving title since Tehran 1974.
China also won three of the four events in athletics, courtesy of Xie Wenjun in the men's 110 metres hurdles, Li Jinzhe in the long jump and Li Ling in the women's pole vault, while the other was taken by Iran's Olympic silver medal-winning discus thrower, Ehsan Hadidi.
South Korea also enjoyed a strong day, winning four titles in sailing, three in bowling, two in soft tennis and one in wrestling.
They did not, however, take gold in the opening day of action in their national sport of taekwondo, where fighters from Iran, Thailand, Taiwan and Uzbekistan claimed the spoils.
Two other notable winners today were Saudi Arabian Abdullah Waleed Sharbatli in the individual showjumping competition and Japanese tennis player Yoshiaka Nishioka, who surprisingly eased past Taiwanese favourite Lu Yen Hsun 6-2, 6-2 in the men's singles.
Two tantalising team finals were also set up this evening, with South Korea facing North Korea in the men's football final, and India up against bitter rivals Pakistan in the men's hockey, after the latter overcame Malaysia 6-5 in a thrilling shootout.
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