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Hina Hayata, Mima Ito prevail in all-Japan semifinal at worlds

Kyodo

Hina Hayata and Mima Ito became the first Japanese women’s doubles pair in 48 years to reach the table tennis world championship finals with a victory over compatriots Honoka Hashimoto and Hitomi Sato on Saturday.

Hayata and Ito, who claimed bronze at the last worlds in 2017, beat their third-seeded countrywomen 4-2 in Budapest to secure a silver medal. Hashimoto and Sato received a bronze for reaching the all-Japan semifinal.

The top seeds admitted they were out of synch until the fourth game but claimed the final three to prevail 11-9, 10-12, 14-16, 11-5, 11-5, 11-7.

“We weren’t quite composed (in the first games),” Hayata said. (From the fourth game on) we were able to match up our footwork.”

The teenage pair will attempt to break China’s 30-year title reign and become Japan’s first women’s doubles world champions since 1967 when they face second seeds Sun Yingsha and Wang Manyu on Sunday.