DUSSELDORF, GERMANY – Tomokazu Harimoto became the youngest player to reach the World Table Tennis Championships quarterfinals on Saturday, when the 13-year-old defeated Lubomir Pistej of Slovakia 4-1 in the men’s singles.
Harimoto, who beat Rio bronze medalist Jun Mizutani in the second round, showed no fear in attacking his 33-year-old counterpart at every opportunity, producing some fierce strokes off both sides in a 12-10, 11-8, 11-9, 9-11, 11-9 triumph.
The teenager also showed poise well beyond his age as he went both short and long while diligently returning back when he was pushed away from the net by Pistej.
In women’s singles, Asian champ Miu Hirano of Japan lost to defending champ and Rio gold medalist Ding Ning of China 4-1 in the semifinals to settle for bronze.
Hirano, who lost in the third round to Ding in her worlds debut two years ago, beat the Chinese en route to her shock Asian championships title in the quarterfinals in April. Ding had done her homework since, however, leaving Hirano with very little to exploit.
Thwarted by quick and accurate returns from Ding, Hirano was the first to make mistakes, failing to keep her shots on the table and quickly falling behind 3-0.
Hirano’s fast attacking style finally gained ground in the fourth game with more long serves, breaking Ding’s serves off both sides before clinching it with a crisp backhand, but Ding regained her rhythm in the fifth game to close it 11-4, 11-8, 11-5, 5-11, 11-5.
In mixed doubles, Japan’s Maharu Yoshimura and Kasumi Ishikawa reached their second straight worlds final after coming from 3-1 down to defeat China’s Fang Bo and Germany’s Petrissa Solja 11-13, 12-14, 11-5, 6-11, 11-5, 11-7, 11-5.
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