NAGOYA – Promotion-chasing ozeki Kisenosato labored past winless komusubi Kotoyuki to keep his eyes on the prize as the second week of the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament got under way on Sunday.
Seeking an elusive first championship, Kisenosato had his hands full after the charge as Kotoyuki threatened to stage an upset at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium with a lively attack.
But the ozeki stood his ground and came through unscathed, grabbing Kotoyuki by the back of the neck and slapping him down to improve to 7-1.
Kisenosato, who is aiming to become the first Japanese-born wrestler to win promotion to yokozuna since Wakanohana in 1998, shares the lead with Mongolian yokozuna duo Hakuho and Harumafuji and komusubi Takayasu.
Hakuho, winner of the last two tournaments and favorite to cart off his 38th career Emperor’s Cup, wrapped up the day’s action by seeing off a spirited effort from No. 4 maegashira Shohozan (2-6) for his record-extending 900th win in the makuuchi division.
Harumafuji got more than he bargained for against Shodai (5-3) and twice came back from the brink to knock the fifth-ranked maegashira off the dohyo.
In other key bouts, relegation-threatened Mongolian giant Terunofuji (5-3) snapped a three-bout losing skid and claimed ozeki bragging rights by outlasting Goeido (5-3).
Terunofuji can secure his ozeki status for the Autumn basho with three more wins.
Earlier, Takayasu survived a vicious onslaught from Tochiozan (5-3) before slapping down the top-ranked maegashira to stay tied at the top of the leaderboard.
No. 7 maegashira Ichinojo came off second best in an entertaining slugfest against Chiyonokuni and dropped to 6-2 and out of the leading pack. Ninth-ranked Chiyonokuni improved to 5-3.
Takarafuji (6-2) had no answer to a barrage of neck thrusts and slaps by sixth-ranked Bulgarian bruiser Aoiyama (5-3) and also surrendered his share of first place.
Brazilian grappler Kaisei, who had a day off and won by default on Saturday after his scheduled opponent, ozeki Kotoshogiku, pulled out of the tournament injured, bashed up top-ranked Mitakeumi (1-7) and moved to 5-3 on his debut at sumo’s third-highest rank of sekiwake.
Georgia’s Tochinoshin has not fared as well as Kasei on his sekiwake debut, and was left staring a losing record after getting sent out to a seventh defeat at the hands of second-ranked maegashira Okinoumi (4-4).