• Kyodo

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Yuya Oshima and Masataka Morizono gave Japan its first World Table Tennis Championships men’s doubles silver medal in 48 years Sunday after being beaten 4-1 by the Chinese pair of Fan Zhendong and Xu Xin.

The last Japanese men’s pair to win silver was Nobuhiko Hasegawa and Tokio Tasaka, who managed it in 1969. Top seeds Oshima and Morizono lost a tight match 11-9, 16-14, 11-9, 6-11, 13-11 to the powerhouse Chinese duo.

It was the third medal in as many world championships won by a Japanese men’s doubles team, with other pairings having won bronze in 2013 and 2015.

“I’m really happy to have won the country’s first silver medal in 48 years but we had a chance to win the final so it’s very disappointing. We lacked fundamentals which proved costly,” said Morizono.

“We felt a lot of pressure from our opponents. In the end, it was as if we played all our cards and had nothing left to give. We did have a chance to win so it’s really disappointing,” said Oshima.

Oshima and Morizono threw away late leads in each of the first three games against the third seeds at the sellout Messe Dusseldorf, the new pair of Fan and 2015 men’s doubles world champion Xu’s accuracy and consistency making the crucial difference.

Later in the day, both Chinese stars backed up to bring further pain to Japanese players in the men’s singles quarterfinals.

World junior champion and 13-year-old Tomokazu Harimoto, the youngest player ever to reach the world championships quarterfinals, missed out on a podium spot when world No. 3 Xu beat him 4-1. Koki Niwa lost to world No. 2 Fan, also 4-1.

“I wanted to win. I came this far and I was only one win away from a medal. I wanted that one medal more than a record,” said Harimoto.

“The amount of spin on his serves was huge, completely different from mine. I never thought I’d be this bummed losing to a Chinese player. It’s too bad because I did have a chance. It made me feel that I may be able to win in two or three years time.”

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