Table tennis / Li becomes the sixth woman to win five golds at the Asian Games

Chinese World No. 1 Ma Long won the Asian Games table tennis singles gold on Saturday as Li Xiaoxia mounted a stunning comeback from three games down to take the women's crown.

The double victory for the host nation means it has won all seven golds on offer in Guangzhou in a devastating show of strength by the sport's powerhouse.

Top-ranked Ma lost the opening game to current World No. 3 Wang Hao but recovered to take the next three.

Wang hit back in the fifth game with the loss of just four points but Ma took a tight sixth game, winning his fourth match point to seal a 9-11, 11-8, 11-7, 11-3, 4-11, 12-10 win.

In the women's final, Li was in desperate trouble against her doubles partner and defending champion Guo Yue after losing the first three games but won the next two and rescued a match point in the sixth game to take it to a decider.

World No. 4 Guo took a grip on the match early on and allowed her opponent, ranked four places below her, few chances in the all-Chinese final as she threatened to overwhelm Li.

But the 22-year-old Li seized her chance to get back into the match in the fourth game, winning it 11-8, visibly growing in confidence as Guo's play faltered, and took the next game 11-6.

In a thrilling sixth game Guo found her range again and earned a match point at 10-9 but Li saved it and went on to level the match, holding her nerve to win 5-11, 4-11, 11-13, 11-8, 11-6, 12-10, 11-9.

“I felt a bit nervous at first so I kept making mistakes,” Li said.

“I was very stressed during the (Asian) Games. This was my first tournament back since my operation in February. It was a huge setback for me so this is a turning point for me.

Li became the sixth woman to win five table tennis gold medals at the Asian Games. She won the women's doubles and team events in Doha in 2006 and successfully defended each in Guangzhou before winning the women's singles. — AFP

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