• Kyodo


Maharu Yoshimura and Kasumi Ishikawa ensured they would win a third straight mixed doubles medal at the World Table Tennis Championships on Wednesday when they advanced to the semifinals.

The defending champions beat Slovakia’s Lubomir Pistej and Barbora Balazova 6-11, 11-8, 11-5, 8-11, 11-7, 11-8 in the quarterfinals of the mixed gender event which will make its Olympic debut at the Tokyo Games next year.

“It’s not easy for the same pair to win a medal at three straight world championships. I’m very glad,” the 26-year-old Ishikawa said.

Ishikawa and Yoshimura won Japan’s first mixed doubles world title in 48 years at the previous tournament in 2017 in Germany. They took silver at the 2015 competition in China.

The International Table Tennis Federation holds team and individual world championships in alternating years.

Yoshimura and Ishikawa will face the German duo of Patrick Franziska and Petrissa Solja in Thursday’s semifinals.

“I want to believe in myself and be able to play well with Ishikawa,” Yoshimura said.

The other semifinal match is a star-studded all-China affair, with Fan Zhendong and Ding Ning taking on Xu Xin and Liu Shiwen for a place in the final.

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