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Why China lost to Japan in Tokyo Olympics 2020

Tonight, this is the first time that coach Ma Lin is seen so sad. Coach Liu Guoliang is so silent. 5 years of hard training.

Tonight, Mima Ito is so happy. Olympic history made. Jun Mizutani & Mima Ito claim Japan’s first-ever Gold medal for the mixed double in table tennis on home soil.
The dream of a gold medal today is the result of 16 years ago.

Mima Ito and Mizutani 16 years ago (1)
Mima Ito and Mizutani 16 years ago (1)
Mima Ito and Mizutani 16 years ago (2)
Mima Ito and Mizutani 16 years ago (2)

No matter where you are, which country you support. China, Japan, Germany, France, Chinese Taipei. We are just behind the computer keyboard. The players are fighting out there. Please share this wonderful moment with me.

Xu Xin, Liu Shiwen vs Jun Mizutani Mima Ito (Mixed Double Final) in Tokyo Olympics

Hello, I’m EmRatThich. Today, we analyze the reason that Xu Xin and Liu Shiwen lost in the final. And how to play the Double in table tennis.

As I have watched the full match LIVE, so I can explain to you some of my feeling about the final game.

Japan vs China Mixed Double Olympics LIVE - I'm watching (2)
Japan vs China Mixed Double Olympics LIVE – I’m watching (2)

What makes double special in table tennis?

First of all, we need to analyze the strength of each team. About the composition, both teams have the best combination of the mixed double.

Due to the copyright, I can’t show you the points. But I think that you can understand my analysis.

You can watch this video for my full analysis:



Strength of each team

About China, Xu Xin played far from the table. He is a left-hander. Liu Shiwen is a right-hander. The combination of a left-hander and a right-hander is the best in table tennis. With this combination, the players can attack right after the serve. And they won’t block the movement of each other.

Strength of Xu Xin
Strength of Xu Xin

About Japan, Jun Mizutani is also a left-hander. He will play far from the table. Mima Ito is a right-hander. So both teams have the best combination in table tennis mixed double.

Playing style

Both teams have a similar playing style. In badminton, there are 2 types of style.

One player can play on the left, another player will play on the right.

Or one player will cover closer to the net, and another player will play far from the net.

Badminton play Doubles

In table tennis, it’s different. The table is smaller. And the ball is very fast. So there is only one style, a female player will stay closer to the table. And the male player will play further from the table. The male player has more power, so he needs to cover a bigger area, far from the table.

Female players will stay closer to the table
Female players will stay closer to the table

Tactical variations

In a table tennis double match, to win the match, both players need to support each other.

If there is a very strong player and a very weak player, then you can’t win the game. The weaker player will be exploited easily.

Both players need to support each other (1)
Both players need to support each other (1)

The main task of Xu Xin is to cover far from the table. He will attack every long ball with his spinny forehand topspin. He is no doubt the best player for the mixed double. Today, he played very well. His backhand flick today is very good too, with only 4 unforced errors.

I’m very amazed at the performance of Jun Mizutani. Jun Mizutani has the same task of Xu Xin. He will cover far from the table. He played so well today. His forehand attack is not too fast. But the placement is amazing. He always attacks at a wide-angle, and very near the edge. It’s very difficult to block this type of placement. Liu Shiwen has difficulty blocking this attack.

Congratulation to Mizutani. He is the main reason for the come back between Japan and Germany. From 2-9 to 16-14. In the end, all of the points for Japan come from the Mizutani’s forehand attack. Only 1 unforced error, which shows the confidence of Mizutani.

Japan has prepared for this Gold medal very well. Mizutani has stoped all of his individual competitions for this Gold medal. I would say Japan has prepared better for this medal.

Tokyo Olympics happens in Japan. So this is the best chance for Japan to get Gold. This is the main task of Mizutani. It’s much harder to get gold in the men’s singles and team event. China is still very strong.

Mima Ito and Liu Shiwen will play close to the table. Both female players will block and control the pace and the placement of the ball. Mima Ito has a slight advantage over Liu Shiwen. Mima Ito used a short pip rubber on her backhand, so she can aggressively attack the ball on the table.

Liu Shiwen Xu Xin Mixed Double get Silver medal (1)
Liu Shiwen Xu Xin Mixed Double get Silver medal (1)

Today, Liu Shiwen’s performance is not good. Her ball is not deep enough. Mima Ito has smashed a lot of balls easily from Liu Shiwen. This could be due to Liu Shiwen’s recent injury, or her mental strength can’t deal with such huge pressure.

Liu Shiwen is chosen to play in the Olympics because of her quick backhand near the table. But today, she only scored around 2 points directly with her backhand. She rarely wins a direct point today. I would say she is very stressed.

Mima Ito, on another hand, played very well today. She is more relax. She smiled a lot. And her backhand with short pips is very aggressive. She can flick directly the serve of Xu Xin. And she has won several points directly. She attacked the serve.

Mima Ito is more relaxe then better feeling (1)
Mima Ito is more relax then better feeling (1)

Performance evaluation

So to score the point about the player’s role in this final, I would like to give.

Xu Xin: 9/10 point
Jun Mizutani: 9/10 point
Mima Ito: 8/10 point
Liu Shiwen: 7/10 point

Important moments

We talk about the “flow of the game”.
There are 4 stages.

Stage 1: China quickly leads the game by winning 2-0.

China has shown that their Mixed double is very well prepared for this final game.

Stage 2: Mima Ito adjustment and Japan comes back to win 3-2.

When I see Mima Ito smiled before the serve, then I know that she has great confidence. And it would be very tough for China. When Mima Ito is relaxed, she can do some crazy and fast attacks. She understands that Liu Shiwen is stressed, so less confident and more conservative.

Stage 3: Xu Xin slows down the game.

China comes back at 3-3. This is the last resort of China. Chinese player is known for his consistent and powerful forehand topspin. When I saw that Xu Xin started to step back further from the table to the forehand topspin, then I knew that Japan will win. That means that China doesn’t have any other solution to deal with Mima Ito. Chinese coach has asked Xu Xin to cover more and attack more. But in the mixed double, when you rely only on 1 player, then you will lose badly.
Xu Xin has done a great job and managed to come back at the 6th set.

Stage 4: Broken-down

Japan has quickly adapted to the situation. Both Jun Mizutani and Mima Ito have changed the ball placement. They attack more to the wide-angle. I still remember, on the first return, Japan attack directly to Xu Xin’s wide forehand. It’s very difficult for Xu Xin. And Japan has lead 8-0.
As I said above, in mixed double, you can’t rely on only one player. Both players need to support each other. China will win if Liu Shiwen can attack more with Xu Xin, if Liu Shiwen can score more points with her backhand.

However, Japan won Gold is a good sign for the sport. The beauty of the game is the variation and the unpredictable element. We are so excited about the next game.


The Gold medal for Japan is inevitable. I also congratulate to Xu Xin and Liu Shiwen.

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Table tennis coach in France since 2012, founder of pingsunday.com (the best online coaching program for table tennis players). Born in Vietnam in 1983, Ph.D. in Université Pierre Marie Curie. Read more about him.

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