TABLE TENNIS: Syed leads challenge

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The England No 1, Chen Xinhua, entered the fray for the first time against China at Stourbridge last night with the six-match series nicely poised at 1-1 and the Yorkshire-based player's top ranking also in the balance, writes James Leigh.

Chen has long been this country's best player but his England appearances, at the age of almost 35, are becoming less frequent and Matthew Syed, once his protege and doubles partner, has three fine wins out of four from the first two matches of this tour.

Syed won twice in the 4-2 victory at Woking on Wednesday and once in the 4-2 loss at St Austell on Thursday, and is narrowing the gap at the top of the England rankings.