Table Tennis: Chen cheers as Dutch are dispatched

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CHEN XINHUA led England to within sight of the semi-finals of the European Superleague with two wins in a 4-1 victory over the Netherlands at Stourbridge last night, writes James Leigh.

The England No 1 showed he is fitter and playing better than at any time since helping China to the World Team title in 1987. His win by 21-15, 21-10 against Merjn de Bruin never looked in doubt, and his success by 21-17, 21-17, against the hit or bust attack of Trinko Keen spoke volumes for the improvement in his defence.

Chen's brilliant serving suggested his forehand delivery is as deceptive as any in the world. Clever serving also rescued Matthew Syed in the important third contest with the match score at 1-1. The Oxford University student was 16-19 down to Danny Heister when he produced three puzzling mixtures of side spin and top spin from a crouched stance. England's other victory came in the doubles from Carl Prean and Alan Cooke.