With one pingpong gold medal already in the bag, China is sure of getting a second on Thursday after defending world champion Zhang Jike and teammate Wang Hao advanced to the men's singles final.
Zhang defeated Dimitrij Ovtcharov of Germany 4-1 in the semifinals, and Wang ousted Chuang Chih-yuan of Taiwan 4-1.
"I promise we will put on the best match ever," Zhang said after winning Thursday's early semifinal.
Zhang spoke before Wang even played, predicting another match against his No. 1 rival. That is the kind of confidence the Chinese players have — Zhang in particular. He has been talking up his chances for gold from the first day.
"Before it even began, I told myself I would win," he said Thursday.
Zhang is the rising star — 24 and the new face of the men's game. He defeated Wang a year ago in the final of the world championships, and has beaten him in their last four matches.
Wang is 28 and trying to break through after losing the last two Olympic singles finals — in 2004 to South Korean Ryu Seung-min, and in Beijing in 2008 to fellow Chinese Ma Lin.
"I want that gold medal very much," Wang said. "The silver medals are in the past."
China picked up its first gold on Wednesday in its national pastime when Li Xiaoxia defeated teammate Ding Ning.
Li was the underdog against Ding, and Wang will be in that position against Zhang.
China has won 21 of 25 gold medals in table tennis since the sport was introduced in the 1988 Olympics. It has won ever women's singles final, but only three of six men's finals. That figure will go to four of seven on Thursday.Suggest a correction