• Kyodo


New yokozuna Kisenosato improved to 10-0 on Tuesday, the 10th day of the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament, to retain his share of the lead with Tagonoura stablemate Takayasu.

With five days left in the 15-day tourney at Edion Arena Osaka, Kisenosato, who won his first grand tournament championship in January, and sekiwake Takayasu, remained one win ahead of ozeki Terunofuji and No. 10 maegashira Tochiozan.

Kisenosato had an easier than expected victory over sekiwake Tamawashi (5-5). Although he quickly pushed his opponent back to the straw, Kisenosato appeared in no position to exploit his advantage, but Tamawashi inadvertently stepped back out of the ring.

Takayasu appeared headed to an embarrassing loss when Takanoiwa dodged the sekiwake’s charge. But the Mongolian No. 2 maegashira lost his balance in the process and was unable to capitalize on his golden opportunity.

Given a second chance, Takayasu wasted no time. He pivoted on a dime and quickly slapped Takanoiwa down to his eighth loss.

Because Kisenosato and Takayasu belong to the same stable, they can only fight each other in a championship playoff if they are tied for the lead on Sunday after 15 bouts.

Terunofuji got the better of up-and-coming komusubi Shodai in a roller-coaster ride of a bout in which the youngster held the upper hand early on. After leveraging the wriggling and twisting ozeki backward toward the ring’s edge, Shodai tried to change his tack for a final forceout.

The instant Shodai (3-7) shifted his weight, Terunofuji escaped, seized the initiative and eventually finished off his opponent with an overarm throw.

With a pair of bad knees limiting his mobility for over a year, Terunofuji is showing the kind of power and speed that earned him the championship at the 2015 Summer Grand Sumo Tournament. Last year, the ozeki managed eight wins just three times, and entered this tourney with his ozeki ranking on the line.

“He’s not the same ozeki I fought last tournament,” Shodai said. “It’s night and day.”

In the following bout, Kakuryu (7-3) was forced over the straw by No. 4 maegashira Yoshikaze (6-4), who stood his ground against the yokozuna on the opening charge. Despite a flurry of slaps and shoves from Kakuryu, Yoshikaze got in close and rammed his foe backward.

In the day’s final bout, yokozuna Harumafuji earned his seventh win in a lackluster bout with fifth-ranked maegashira Endo (6-4). Harumafuji was forced back effortlessly on the opening face-off, before managing to spin his opponent around and slap him to the sandy surface.

Kotoshogiku, who is wrestling as a sekiwake after two straight losing records saw him demoted from the ozeki rank, needs 10 wins in Osaka to regain his elite rank. He earned his seventh with a surprisingly easy victory over No. 1 maegashira Takekaze (2-8).

Takekaze entered the match having won half his career bouts with Kotoshogiku, but was forced backward on the opening charge and fell when his knee buckled under him.

Earlier, Tochiozan made short work of No. 13 maegashira Daishomaru (6-4).

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