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Upsets abound in Sapporo (Part 1)

Friday 14 June

Seamaster 2019 ITTF World Tour Platinum Lion Japan Open

Friday 14th June


Upsets abound in Sapporo

The host nation’s brightest hopes, Tomokazu Harimoto and Mima Ito both departed in the opening round; one round later China’s Ding Ning, the reigning Olympic champion bid farewell.

In Sapporo on Friday 14th June, it was a day of surprises at the Seamaster 2019 ITTF World Tour Platinum Lion Japan Open.

Just one prior appearance in an open international tournament, when experiencing defeat earlier in the year in the second round at the ITTF Challenge 2019 Portugal Open in Lisbon at the hands of Sweden’s Truls Moregard, in the opening round of the men’s singles event, China’s Sun Wen caused a major upset.

He beat the host nation’s Tomokazu Harimoto, the no.4 seed (11-8, 11-5, 11-7, 11-8), before accounting for Korea Republic’s Lee Sangsu, the no.9 seed (11-3, 8-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-7). Similarly, Chinese Taipei’s 17 year old Lin Yun-Ju, the no.16 seed, upset the pecking order. In the second round of the men’s singles event, he beat China’s Lin Gaoyuan, the no.2 seed (9-11, 9-11, 21-19, 11-9, 11-7, 11-9).

Also, Kazuhiro Yoshimura caused an first round surprise by overcoming Japanese national team colleague, Koki Niwa, the no.10 seed (11-4, 1-11, 11-9, 13-11, 5-11, 15-13). Alas for Japan one round later he was beaten by China’s Fan Zhendong, the top seed (11-2, 11-7, 11-6, 13-11). Likewise there was a first round exit for Hong Kong’s Wong Chun Ting. The no.14 seed he lost to Germany’s Ruwen Filus (9-11, 9-11, 11-6, 11-5, 11-7, 11-9).

Surprise departures, it was almost the same for China’s Ma Long, the reigning Olympic and World champion. In round two, he needed the full seven games to beat Korea Republic’s Jeoung Youngsik, the no.15 seed (11-9, 7-11, 11-9, 9-11, 9-11, 12-10, 11-5).

Meanwhile, in the women’s singles event, former winners departed in the opening round. Japan’s Mima Ito, the defending champion, experienced an opening round defeat; the no.7 seed, she was beaten by China’s Gu Yuting (7-11, 11-7, 11-8, 11-9, 12-14, 12-10). Winner in 2011 and 2014, Singapore’s Feng Tianwei, the no.12 seed, waved goodbye in round one; she was beaten by China’s He Zhuojia (13-11, 11-5, 11-1, 9-11, 10-12, 11-8) who then lost to the in-form Gu Yuting (11-5, 7-11, 5-11, 11-5, 11-3, 11-9).

A surprise Chinese quarter-finalist, there was one more; Lui Fei accounted for Chinese Taipei’s Cheng I-Ching, the no.8 seed (13-11, 8-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-7) prior to overcoming Japan’s Sakura Mori (11-13, 9-11, 11-6, 11-6, 12-10, 7-11, 13-11) to book her last eight place.

Outstanding efforts but undoubtedly for the host nation, Hitomi Sato was the star of the show; the no.14 seed, she caused a second round shock of seismic proportions; she beat China’s Ding Ning, the top seed and reigning Olympic champion (12-10, 6-11, 3-11, 12-10, 11-6, 11-9). The stunning success rather overshadowed the efforts of Japan’s Miyu Nagasaki. The 16 year old caused a major first round surprise; she beat China’s Zhu Yuling, the no.5 seed (11-6, 5-11, 11-9, 11-7, 11-9), before in the next round losing to colleague, Miu Hirano, the no.9 seed (8-11, 11-5, 11-5, 12-10, 11-9).

Impressive performances; it was the same from China’s Sun Yingsha. She kept her hopes alive of repeating her 2017 title win; she beat Korea Republic’s Suh Hyowon (11-2, 11-5, 11-5, 11-5), followed by success in opposition to Japan’s Kasumi Ishikawa, the no.6 seed (11-8, 11-6, 11-5, 11-6).

By Ian Marshall, Editor

Photo Credit: ITTF

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