Table tennis: the French outclassed by the Chinese 3-0 in the final of the World Team Championships

The French men’s table tennis team, led by the Lebrun brothers, was outclassed by China 3-0 in the final of the World Team Championships on Sunday in Busan (South Korea). Five months before their Paris-2024 Olympics, the French table tennis players nevertheless equal the best result of the Blues, 27 years after the silver won in 1997 by Jean-Philippe Gatien’s gang.

For a time, Alexis Lebrun, the eldest of the siblings, kept hope alive with a match point at the end of his racket against world No. 1 Fan Zhendong to equalize at 1-1, without success. When it’s not one of the Lebruns, it’s the other: best tricolor and world No. 6, Félix Lebrun failed to launch his team against Wang Chuqin (N.2) who suffocated 3-0 (11-4, 11-8, 11-3).

Since the first non-Chinese in the world ranking cannot compete, this says a lot about the supremacy of the Middle Kingdom at the top of the ranking. This could also have discouraged his partners: on the contrary, his brother, in the relay, led two sets to one and 10-9 in the fourth set. All against the reigning world singles champion, Fan Zhendong, who had not lost a set in two matches during the semi-final against South Korea.

Historic World Cups for France

The first European to bring down Fan Zhendong, ten months ago in Macau, Alexis Lebrun ended up losing 3-2 (9-11, 11-4, 8-11, 12-10, 11-7) but the elder of the siblings, 20 years old and 21st in the world ranking, embodied the slogan launched by Félix Lebrun the day before. “We will give everything to try to create the feat, first of all by winning point by point, set by set and if afterwards we manage to win a match, try to look for another, professed the cadet, aged 17 years old. We know it’s going to be very hard but we’re going to give everything to get there.”

Euphoria transmitted to Simon Gauzy. At 29 years old, the former French N.1 who reached the top-8 in 2018, looks like an old hand against the two post-adolescents but just as uninhibited, he led 1-0 against the legend Ma Long , double Olympic champion in singles (2016 and 2021). The hierarchy was finally respected: 3-1 (7-11, 11-2, 11-4, 11-6), allowing China to win its 11th world title in a row. But these Worlds remain historic for the tricolor “ping” since the French table tennis players also returned with a bronze medal, a first since 1991.

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