Although the Japan Open showcased Chinese table tennis supremacy rather than Japan's rise, China's stars have a wary eye on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic hosts — if their words are taken at face value.

Kasumi Ishikawa, Mima Ito and Asian champ Miu Hirano all crashed out before facing the eventual 16-year-old women's singles winner Sun Yingsha, while Rio bronze medalist Jun Mizutani was the only Japanese man to make the last four.

It was a sobering sight for many home fans, who had been buoyed by their nation's success at last month's worlds: a bronze by Hirano and quarterfinal appearance by 13-year-old Tomokazu Harimoto in men's singles.