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Tomokazu Harimoto and Mima Ito sensational winners in Kitakyushu

Performances that will live long in the memory, the host nation’s Tomokazu Harimoto and Mima Ito emerged the respective winners of the Men’s Singles and Women’s Singles titles at the recent Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Lion Japan Open; play concluding in Kitakyushu on Sunday 10th June.

Only 14 years old, Tomokazu Harimoto accounted for the two most recent Olympic Games gold medallists, the two most recent World champions.

The no.6 seed, at the quarter-final stage he accounted for Ma Long, the no.2 seed (11-8, 11-9, 11-7, 3-11, 2-11, 11-6), before in the final accounting for the latter’s Chinese national team colleague, Zhang Jike by the very narrowest of margins (9-11, 8-11, 11-9, 11-4, 10-12, 11-7, 13-11) to seal the title. Earlier, in the opposite half of the draw, in the penultimate round Zhang Jike had been awarded a walk-over against Germany’s Timo Boll, the top seed, who had been forced to withdraw from proceedings owing to a neck injury.

Remarkable from Tomokazu Harimoto, it was the same from Mima Ito. The no.3 seed, at the semi-final stage she recovered from a three games to nil deficit to beat Chen Xingtong, the no.5 seed (8-11, 9-11, 6-11, 11-9, 11-4, 11-9, 11-7, 11-7), prior to overcaming Wang Manyu, the no.2 seed and also from China in the final (11-7, 7-11, 12-10, 9-11, 11-6, 11-6).

Impressively, at the quarter-final stage Cheng Xingtong had beaten Japan’s Kasumi Ishikawa, the top seed (11-3, 11-4, 10-12, 9-11, 11-7, 11-8), whilst in the penultimate round Wang Manyu had won the all Chinese encounter by overcoming colleague, Liu Shiwen, the no.8 seed (11-7, 7-11, 12-10, 9-11, 11-6, 11-6). Most notably, it was third time in the space of some three weeks on the Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour that Mima Ito and Wang Manyu had met; in both Hong Kong and China, Mima Ito had experienced defeat.

Problems for Chen Xingtong but one day earlier she had enjoyed success, she partnered compatriot Liang Jingkun the Mixed Doubles success, the pair being the host nation’s Maharu Yoshimura and Kasumi Ishikawa, the top seeds and reigning World champions (11-9, 11-9, 11-9) to reserve the top step of the podium. Thus for Chen Xingtong it was two titles in succession; the previous week in Shenzhen she had partnered colleague Lin Gaoyuan to gold.

The top prizefor Liang Jingkun, one day later, he had to settle for silver; partnering Zhou Kai, the duo experience defeat in the title deciding Men’s Doubles contest when facing Korea Republic’s Jeoung Sangeun and Lee Sangsu, the no.3 seeds (11-6, 5-11, 11-9, 11-5).

Success for Jeoung Sangeun and Lee Sangsu, in the Women’s Doubles final, it was success for China’s Gu Yuting and Muz; similar to Liang Jingkun and Zhou Kai, not seeded, they received a walk-over when due to face compatriots Liu Shiwen and Wang Manyu.