Table Tennis-World No. 1 Chen edges closer to gold medal dream

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TOKYO, July 26 (Reuters) - China's Chen Meng, the world's top ranked table tennis player, overwhelmed Swiss opponent Rachel Moret on Monday in the third round of the women's singles to move one step closer to gold on her Olympic debut.

Chen beat Moret 4-0 at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium to ease her way into the last 16.

"It was smoother than I imagined. Before the match, I prepared fully. I watched the mixed doubles opening round here to get a feel of everything," said Chen.

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"With each round the opponents will get stronger and stronger. I'm going to treat every match like life or death," the 27-year-old added.

Nicknamed Da Meng, or "big dream", Chen said her dream would be "to give my everything to win the women's singles gold."

China has won 28 of the 32 gold medals awarded in the sport since it was added to the programme at the 1988 Games, including all eight women's singles titles.

Men's singles medal favourite Tomokazu Harimoto of Japan had a rough start, including scraping the middle finger on his dominant right hand when hitting a backhand shot during the second game against Hong Kong's Lam Siu Hang.

But Harimoto said it was "a lucky injury" that allowed him to regain his composure. The 18-year-old went on to seal a 4-1 victory.

Elsewhere, 40-year-old veteran Timo Boll came back from losing the first game to Kazakhstan's Kirill Gerassimenko to win 4-1.

China and Japan will compete for the first gold in the mixed doubles event later on Monday.

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Reporting by Eimi Yamamitsu Editing by Christian Radnedge

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