China's men's and women's teams beat Russia and India respectively in the group stage first games of the 2018 World Team Table Tennis Championships in Halmstad, Sweden on Sunday, while the German men's team survived a tough game against Egypt 3-2.
China's men's team, the reigning champion and currently world No. 2, played against Russia in the first round of Group B. Fan Zhendong, Ma Long and Wang Chuqin routing their opponents all by 3-0, helping China win the first game on the way to claiming a 9th consecutive title.
"There is always more pressure in the first match but we came with sufficient preparation and all of the three players performed well today," said Liu Guozheng, coach of China's men's team.
As the women's top seed, China played two games and sealed both with a sweeping victory on the opening day of the tournament. Led by Rio Olympic champion Ding Ning, China's women's team beat India by 3-0 in the morning and nailed another triumph against Belarus 3-0 late in the evening.
The German men's team led by Timo Boll and Dimitrij Ovtcharov, the world's second and third ranked players, could be the strongest challengers to China.
However, as one of the favorite for the Swaythling Cup, Germany went through a tough game, when Egyptian star player Omar Assar scored two points by defeating Ruwen Filus and Timo Boll in game two and game four.
"The first game is never the easiest, but winning is the most important," Boll told Xinhua after the match. When asked about his prospective of this championships, Boll said that his team "are the top seed, but obviously China is the favourite for the title."
In other games, Japan also won all of the men's and women's games scheduled on the day, while host Sweden won against Romania in the men's first round.