Table tennis' mixed doubles get underway, US paddlers progress in singles

Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Table Tennis - Women's Singles - Preliminary Round - Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium - Tokyo, Japan - July 24, 2021.  Juan Liu of the United States in action against Olufunke Oshonaike of Nigeria

Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Table Tennis - Women's Singles - Preliminary Round - Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium - Tokyo, Japan - July 24, 2021. Juan Liu of the United States in action against Olufunke Oshonaike of Nigeria (REUTERS/Thomas Peter)


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TOKYO — United States paddlers Liu Juan and Nikhil Kumar won their opening singles matches at the 2020 Olympics on Saturday while Japan's mixed doubles duo Jun Mizutani and Mima Ito did not have it all their own way early on but came back strong to advance.

Liu, 36, scored a 4-1 win over Nigeria's Olufunke Oshonaike, who is competing at her seventh Olympics, and compatriot Kumar beat Mongolia's Lkhagvasuren Enkhbat by the same scoreline at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium.

In the morning session, mixed doubles made its Olympic debut and Japan's Mizutani and Ito remain in the medal hunt after pushing past Austria's Stefan Fegerl and Sofia Polcanova 4-1 in the best-of-seven match.

"I am sure China will be at the final match, and it is our motto and goals to compete with them in the final match and win gold medal," Ito told reporters.

China's powerful pairing of world No. 2 Xu Xin and reigning world champion Liu Shiwen beat Canada's Wang Zhen and Zhang Mo 4-1.

(Reporting by Eimi Yamamitsu; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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Eimi Yamamitsu

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