Australia's Fang Lay wins in table tennis

Australia's Jian Fang Lay made a winning start to her Olympic table tennis singles competition.
Australia's Jian Fang Lay made a winning start to her Olympic table tennis singles competition.

Australian table tennis great Jian Fang Lay has started her record-equalling sixth Olympics with two wins in singles competition.

David Powell was the only other Australian to advance on the opening day of competition on Saturday, with Czech opponent Pavel Sirucek having withdrawn because of his positive COVID-test

The 48-year-old veteran Fang Lay convincingly beat Cuban Daniela Fonseca 11-5 11-7 11-5 14-12 in the preliminary round.

She then had a tougher duel in the first round on Saturday night with Italian Debora Vivarelli.

Vivarelli had a game point in the third game, but Fang Lay fought back to take it 12-10 and then dominated for an 11-7 5-11 11-4 12-10 11-2 win.

Her second-round opponent on Monday will be Poland's Qian Li.

Fang Lay is also in the women's team event, which starts on Sunday week.

She initially missed selection for Tokyo, but was named as a replacement for Stephanie Sang when she withdrew for personal reasons.

Fang Lay joins equestrian veteran Mary Hanna as the first Australian women to compete in six Olympics.

Chinese-born Fang Lay moved to Melbourne in 1994 and had her best Olympic result in Rio, reaching the third round in singles.

Compatriots Heming Hu and Melissa Tapper bowed out of the mixed doubles when they were beaten soundly by French pair Emmanuel Lebesson and Jia Nan Yuan 11-5 11-9 11-1 11-0.

Poland's Natalia Partyka beat Michelle Bromley 11-3 11-5 11-5 11-7 and Xin Yan lost his men's singles opener to Romanian Ovidiu Ionescu 11-7 13-11 7-11 11-8 11-6.

Powell faces Slovakian Yang Wang on Monday in round one.

Australian Associated Press