Verviers (Belgium): Top seed Xu Xin breezed past Germany's Patrick Baum 4-1 in his Group 1 opener at the men's table tennis World Cup here. Xu, last year's semifinalist, won 10-12, 11-7, 11-5, 11-5.
The 23-year-old is ranked second in the world, and lost to world No.1 and the final champion Ma Long in last year's World Cup. But with Ma absent and double Olympic champion and world titlist Zhang Jike pulling out due to injury, it is the best chance for him to win a major singles title, reports Xinhua.
"I know this is the best chance," he said after his win Friday. "But I am also very clear that I can't make any mistakes. I need to be very prepared."
Should he win, he will become the first left hander to win a men's singles champion from the all-conquering Chinese team in the World Championships, Olympics or World Cup.
"I am confident that I can win," Xu said.
Xu's teammate Yan An, competing in the World Cup for the first time, was edged by Olympic bronze medallist Dimitrij Ovtcharov of Germany in Group 3 by 11-7, 10-12, 12-10, 11-5, 2-11, 11-9.
The top two players of each group qualify for the final eight and the champion will be decided Sunday.