KITAKYUSHU – Teenage star Tomokazu Harimoto beat China’s two-time Olympic champion Ma Long on Saturday in the Japan Open quarterfinals.
Ma, currently the world champ and a former world No. 1 who won his first Japan Open men’s championship in Tokyo last year, succumbed to the sixth-seeded Harimoto 11-8, 11-9, 11-7, 3-11, 2-11, 11-6.
It was their second career match, 14-year-old Harimoto having lost in four games to Ma as a sixth-year elementary school student at the 2016 Poland Open that October.
“This is the first time I’ve beaten a world champion, so I’m happy,” Harimoto said. “But I want to win a championship more than I want to beat Ma.”
Asked if he expected Ma to be a rival at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Harimoto said, “Whoever is at the other end of the table is my rival.”