World champions Ma Long and Liu Shiwen suffered shock exits from the singles events at China's table tennis Olympic simulation in Nanyang, central China's Henan Province, on Saturday, while Wang Chuqin/Sun Yingsha outclassed Xu Xin/Liu Shiwen to win the mixed doubles title.
The big surprise came in the men's singles quarterfinals as the Grand Slam winner Ma Long lost 11-5, 11-9, 12-10, 6-11, 5-11, 11-8 to Xu Chenhao, whose previous best result was a last-eight finish in the 2012 national championships.
Ma, 32, a three-time world champion and twice Olympian, opened his encounter against 26-year-old Xu in a lackluster way, losing three sets in a row. The Chinese men's team skipper managed to pull two points back in the following sets, but failed to hold on to turn the table.
"I knew I need to make some changes in tactics, but it's too late when trailing 3-2 in sets and 8-4 in the sixth one," noted Ma, the world No. 3.
It's the second time in just three weeks that Ma was ousted by a younger teammate. He lost to Zhou Qihao, also in the men's singles quarterfinals, at the first stop of China's Olympic simulation in Xinxiang earlier this month.
"Despite the defeat, I think it's a good thing to learn some lessons ahead of the Olympic Games. It reminds me that I should do more to avoid a slow start and prepare more if it's not avoidable," he said.
Xu Chenhao will next play world No. 2 Xu Xin in Sunday's semifinals after the 31-year-old pen-hold paddler beat Liang Jingkun in four straight sets in the quarters.