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Commonwealth Games: Singapore target long-term table tennis mastery

Singapore can maintain their dominance of women's table tennis at the Commonwealth Games in the long-term following their gold in the team event in Glasgow, according to coach Jing Junhong.

GLASGOW - Singapore can maintain their dominance of women's table tennis at the Commonwealth Games in the long-term following their gold in the team event in Glasgow, according to coach Jing Junhong.

The victory, secured with a 3-0 win over Malaysia, was a fourth successive gold in the team event since was introduced to the Games in Manchester in 2002. Australia beat India 3-1 in the bronze medal match, while in the men's event, Singapore picked up a 3-1 win over Nigeria and they will meet England, who pulled off a nervy 3-1 win over India.

Singapore's women had to deal with losing their first match in the event since 2002 when Yu Mengyu was beaten by India's Manika Batra in the semi-final. But Jing believes that winning gold with such a young team is a significant step.

Their top player Feng Tianwei is 27 and Yu is 23 but Zhou Yihan is 20, Li Isabelle is 19, and Lin Ye is 18. It means that Jing feels that Singapore are not about to let go of their tight control of the event.

She said: "I'm proud of the young players. They performed well and to win gold is good for our young players. We always hope to win the gold but it's not easy. The semi-finals we lost a match but winning the gold is more important for us.

"We have a young team. Compared to the last Commonwealth Games we've changed three key players and we've got three young players coming together and it's a gold medal at a major games so the future is good for us. I believe we can continue for a long time. The singles and doubles we will prepare carefully. Some countries have one or two good players like India, New Zealand and Canada. They have good players so we have to be careful."

As sixth seeds, Malaysia had pulled off surprise wins over England and second seeds Australia just to reach the final and coach Kim Shan H Ng said: "They beat my expectations. Singapore were hard, they were a better team, we just had to try."

In the men's semi-finals, Gao Ning, ranked 12 in the world, took 48 minutes to beat Segun Toriola 3-2. Nigeria pulled level when Quadri Aruna, ranked 126 in the world, managed to beat world number 34 Zhan Jian but Singapore won the doubles rubber before Zhan overcame Bode Abiodun to send his team through 3-1.

Zhan praised Nigeria's defiant performance. "It was tough, we weren't too familiar with the way Nigeria play and this is the first time I have played in the Commonwealth Games," he said. "After the team won the doubles, the whole situation got better, so I was more relaxed but Nigeria were really persistent."

After winning the opening two matches, England were one game up in the doubles, only for India to pull back when Amalraj Anthony and Harmeet Desai came from behind to beat Paul Drinkhall and Andrew Baggaley.

Liam Pitchford, who beat Sharath Kamal Achanta in five games in the opening match, took a 2-0 lead over Desai only for the Indian to pull back to 2-2. In the final game, Pitchford led 10-4 before finally winning the last game 17-15 to earn England a place in the final against Singapore, who beat them at the same stage four years ago. 

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