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China’s Olympic Simulation: Ma Long Falls Again

(by Steve Hopkins)

Just three weeks after Ma Long was ousted early in the China Olympic Trials, he falls again – this time a 4-2 to Xu Chenhao.  Chenhao is a 24 second tier Chinese player who was briefly within the Top 100 in the rankings (No. 97) in 2014.   That said, he’s a dangerous free-swinging player who has been a giant-killer in other events – like when he beat Xu Xin a year ago 4-0 in the 2020 Olympic Simulation Event.  Chenhao seemingly swings full-speed in almost every point (with a backhand flip that is often a full swing -instead of a wrist flip “banana” and with a forehand that jumps straight to full-power instead of an incremental speed increase like many other players).

The other top seeds are still in the running, so in a few hours we’ll see if Xu Chenhao is limited to this one great match, or if he is ready to make a deeper run.  As noted above, a similar story line emerged at the China Trials a few weeks ago and after upsetting Ma Long, Qihao went on to win the whole tournament.  For sure, at a time when China was planning to hone their dominant team for Tokyo, some of the younger players have set out to make a name for themselves.  “Chenhao” may be a name we will hear more often in the future.

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