Table tennis: Clarence Chew, Ethan Poh stun world No. 7 men's doubles pair at S'pore Smash

Clarence Chew (left) and Ethan Poh, who are ranked 128th in the world, defeated world No. 7 pair Ovidiu Ionescu and Alvaro Robles. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

SINGAPORE - Buoyed by the cheers from the home crowd at the OCBC Arena, Singaporean paddlers Clarence Chew and Ethan Poh produced a show to remember for local fans on Sunday (March 13) as the men's doubles pair upset world No. 7 Ovidiu Ionescu and Alvaro Robles to advance to the quarter-finals of the Singapore Smash.

Chew and Poh, who are ranked 128th in the world, beat 2019 World Championships silver medallists Ionescu and Robles - who are from Romania and Spain respectively - 11-3, 11-9, 13-11 to claim the biggest scalp of their career.

Poh, 23, said: "Before the game we knew they were tough opponents, but we went in with the mentality that we had nothing to lose. We are on home ground as well and wanted to give Singaporeans a good show and it worked out well in the end."

And the crowd certainly got behind them, cheering and applauding each winning point.

Silver medallists at the 2017 SEA Games, the Singaporean pair got off to a strong start when they won the first game convincingly, but needed to dig deep in the next two games as their opponents turned up the heat.

Chew said: "For us to play in the Singapore Smash with all these really good players is a good experience for us, so we really just take each match, enjoy ourselves and put in a good performance."

They will face either China's Wang Chuqin and Fan Zhendong or Portugal's Joao Monteiro and Tiago Apolonia in the next stage.

Teammate Goi Rui Xuan was hoping to repeat her giant-slaying act from last Friday, when she beat Chinese Taipei's 60th-ranked Cheng Hsien-tzu in the women's singles round of 64. But the world No. 180 paddler succumbed 3-0 (11-4, 11-2, 11-4) to Japan's world No. 6 Hina Hayata.

"She was definitely a much stronger player as compared to me, you can feel that she's controlling the whole game," said the 21-year-old Singaporean.

"It's my first time playing one of the top players so for me, the feeling that I get is very different from when I normally train so I need to work towards that direction because there are a lot of players who are at her level."

Despite the loss, there were lessons aplenty at the Singapore Smash as Goi added: "A few years back, I used to play in the junior (events) and now I'm playing open so the player range is so much wider and the level of the players is much higher as compared to last time.

"My past few WTT matches weren't so good, so this competition really motivates me and shows me that I have the ability to do it."

Goi will still be in action at the OCBC Arena with women's doubles partner Wong Xin Ru. They beat compatriots Zhou Jingyi and Ser Lin Qian 3-0 (11-6, 11-5, 11-9) in the round of 32 on Sunday and will play India's Archana Girish Kamath and Manika Batra next.

Singapore's table tennis players are out of the mixed doubles after Chew and Zeng Jian lost 3-0 (11-9, 11-8, 14-12) to Chinese Taipei's world No. 1 duo Lin Yun-Ju and Cheng I-Ching in the round of 16.

Day three of action at the Singapore Smash served up more drama and excitement for fans as China's world No. 2 Ma Long was made to work hard for his 3-1 (11-4, 5-11, 11-6, 11-9) victory in the men's singles round of 32 against Nigerian world No. 11 Quadri Aruna.

The Olympic champion said: "It was a tough fight and I'm very glad to have won this match. As the competition progresses, each match is going to get more intense."

But it was business as usual for China's world No. 1 Sun Yingsha, who beat teammate and rising star Kuai Man 3-0 (11-8, 11-5, 11-5).

Kuai, who is ranked 131st in the world, stormed to a 5-1 lead in the first game, but Sun's experience showed as she clawed back to reclaim the lead for a straight-sets win. She will face compatriot Liu Shiwen, who beat Germany's Shan Xiaona, in the next round.

Sun, 21, said: "I think I came in quite well prepared today, every game is important in this best of five system - it doesn't matter what the score is like for each game, I just want to win it one point at a time.

"Kuai Man's performance has been not bad and she is a few years younger, but we both can be considered the new generation of Chinese players."

Selected Day 4 fixtures

Afternoon session

From 1.30pm

Women's doubles

Zeng Jian/Lin Ye (Sgp) v Ni Xia Lian/Sarah De Nutte (Lux) - Table 4

Wang Manyu/Sun Yingsha (Chn) v Cheng Hsien-Tzu/Liu Hsing-Yin (Tpe) - Table 3

Women's singles

Chen Szu-Yu (Tpe) v Mima Ito (Jpn) - Table 1

Men's singles

Fan Zhendong (Chn) v Masataka Morizono (Jpn) - Table 1

Mixed doubles

Lin Yun-Ju/Cheng I-Ching (Tpe) v Sathiyan Gnanasekaran/Manika Batra (Ind) - Table 2

Evening session

From 6.30pm

Mixed doubles

Doo Hoi Kem/Wong Chun Ting (Hkg) v Hina Hayata/Tomokazu Harimoto (Jpn) - Table 2

Wang Chuqin/Sun Yingsha (Chn) v Ovidiu Ionescu/Bernadette Szocs (Rom) - Table 3

Women's singles

Zeng Jian (Sgp) v Chen Meng (Chn) - Table 1

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