BAGGALEY CONTINUES IN PURSUIT OF TITLE NUMBER FOUR

England’s Andrew Baggaley remains on course for a record-breaking fourth BetVictor World Championship of Ping Pong title after cruising through to the last 16 at Alexandra Palace, London, live on Sky Sports and DAZN.

The Milton Keynes man shares a record three world titles with Russia’s Maxim Shmyrev, who is also into the last 16 after a pulsating opening day of play in north London.

The tournament began with the usual double elimination group stage, which sees 80 matches played in just four hours. Those who make it through their group enter the knockout phase at the last 32, which was played on Saturday evening.

The session started with World No.1 female sandpaper player Chen Jie in action on the TV table and last year’s semi-finalist beat Germany’s Genia Milchin 15-11, 14-15, 15-9. Chen will meet Milchin’s compatriot Alexander Flemming, always a crowd favourite at Ally Pally, in the last 16 after ‘The Flash’ beat Scotland’s Ian Johnston 15-8, 15-7.

Baggaley’s defence will continue tomorrow when he meets Wu Gang in the last 16, and after beating Bryan Aiglemontt, Baggaley just had time to catch the last set of Wu’s win over Kazeem Adeleke.

“I’ll go back to the hotel for the rest of the evening, relax and come fresh for tomorrow,” said Baggaley. “I’ll watch a bit of my next opponent before I leave and study them a little bit.

“Playing in this arena is incredible, it is a brilliant crowd and they create a brilliant atmosphere. It’s a pleasure to play in front of so many home fans.”

The evening concluded with an epic encounter between China’s Lu Shuang and England’s Chris Doran. Doran was 9-1 down in the first set and despite fighting back to trail 12-11, it was the Chinese star who drew first blood. Doran wasn’t done, though, and the No.3 seed survived two match pointes in the second set to force the decider. However, Lu controlled the third set to dump Doran out 15-12, 14-15, 15-12.

Elsewhere there were wins for Gavin Rumgay, 17-year-old English hotshot Ethan Walsh and China’s ‘Bald Chao’ Hu Junchao. Last year’s beaten finalist, the 2018 World Champion Wang Shibo defeated Omry

Ben Ari while 2017 champ Yan Weihao is also through to Sunday’s play after beating Vladislav Kutsenko of Russia.

Now into its eighth year at the iconic Alexandra Palace, London, the World Championship is a throwback to the early days of table tennis and is catapulting ping pong into the big league and onto the international television stage.

The action is fast and furious, with the emphasis on speed, skill and shot-making – only the very best will see it through the Sunday night’s closing stages.

Tickets are still available for the final day of play at www.worldchampionshipofpingpong.net. Full match results, schedule and draw information can also be found at www.worldchampionshipofpingpong.net. Follow the BetVictor World Championship of Ping Pong on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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