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Last Updated: Sunday, 25 May, 2003, 18:29 GMT 19:29 UK
Schlager takes world title
Werner Schlager
Werner Schlager is the second Austrian to win the world title
Austria's Werner Schlager ended the recent domination of Asian players by claiming the world table tennis title in Paris on Sunday.

The 30-year-old number six seed defeated South Korea's Joo Se-Hyuk 4-2 to become Europe's first world champion since Swede Jan-Ove Waldner in 1997.

It was also the first time in six years that China had no representative in the men's final.

Schlager is now the new world number one, and the Austrian had his best win of the tournament in the semi-final when he beat China's Olympic champion Kong Linghui.

"I've played the role of fox chased by the great Chinese players for too long, now with this title I guess I'll become a hunter," said Schlager.

"I hope I'm not going to wake up suddenly and find this fairytale is a dream. I'm now living a dream.

"I'm wondering when I'm going to wake up. I have now the 2004 Olympic Games in sight."

This wall of China thing is played up a little by the press
Werner Schlager
Joo, ranked 61 in the world, was a surprise finalist and the first defensive player to make it to the final for almost half a century.

"Mr Schlager is a clever man, that's why he won the title," said the South Korean.

"I enjoyed playing Joo and trying to disrupt his rhythm by hitting long and short balls, I think I did it quite well," said Schlager.

And the Austrian insisted afterwards that he had never felt intimidated by the powerful Chinese players.

"This wall of China thing is played up a little by the press," he said.

"For me it's more a question of playing a beautiful game and it's all about who is best."

However, the sport's most successful nation again dominated the world championships, winning five of the six gold medals.

On Saturday, Wang Nan became only the second woman to win three world titles in succession when she beat compatriot Zhang Yining, 4-3.

The pair then teamed up to beat fellow Chinese Niu Jianfeng and Guo Yue 4-1 in the final of the women's doubles.


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