London: Wang Hao has won two silver medals in table tennis in the last two Olympics, a history he's trying to forget.
"I want that gold medal very much," Wang said. "The silver medals are in the past, so I'm just trying to take it step by step."
The main problem is Chinese teammate Zhang Jike, who also reached the semifinals of men's singles on Wednesday. The two are the choices to advance to Thursday's final and, as Wang knows, No. 1-seeded Zhang is viewed as the favorite.
In semifinals, Zhang and Wang face respective opponents with the winners playing the same day in the finals.
"The top four are really close, so we'll see," Wang said.
Thursday's men's semifinals will feature Zhang and Wang, and two non-Chinese player: Dimitrij Ovtcharov of Germany and Chuang Chih-Yuan of Taiwan. But anything less than an all-China final will shock 1.3 billion Chinese who expect all four golds in their national pastime.
In Wednesday's quarterfinals, Zhang defeated his friend Jiang Tainyi of Hong Kong — they two both grew up in China's Shandong province — 4-1 in an easy match that looked more like training than an Olympic showdown.
Wang defeated Japan's Seiya Kishikawa 4-0 in another lopsided match.
Zhang seems to be under more pressure than Wang.
"Each of my matches is getting better," he said. "I have been too stressed, but today was better."
In two quarterfinals on Tuesday, Ovtcharov defeated Michael Maze of Denmark 4-3, and Chuang reached the semifinals, beating Adrian Crisan of Romania 4-0.
In Thursday semifinals, Zhang faces Ovtcharov and Wang plays Chuang with the winners playing the same day in the finals.