Beijing – Japan’s men’s world No. 4 Tomokazu Harimoto and women’s world No. 9 Kasumi Ishikawa both suffered shocking first-round upsets Thursday at the International Table Tennis Federation Finals held in Zhengzhou, China.
On the first day of action at the Zhengzhou Olympic Sports Center, Harimoto let a 3-1 lead slip away against 18th-ranked South Korean Jang Woo-jin, who staged a stunning comeback to take three games in a row to win the match 4-3.
Jang survived two match point opportunities to take the fifth game against the 17-year-old Harimoto and keep his hopes alive in his 6-11, 2-11, 11-7, 7-11, 12-10, 11-2, 11-5 win.
Harimoto and Jang also needed seven games in their match the week before at the Men’s World Cup in Weihai. At that match, however, Harimoto recovered from a 0-2 deficit to prevail in their third-place playoff.
Earlier Thursday, Ishikawa lost 4-1 against 23rd-ranked Suh Hyo-won after coming off a straight-games win over the South Korean at the recent Women’s World Cup, where she improved to 12-3 in her career against Suh.
But on Thursday, Ishikawa was outplayed by the defensive chopper who capitalized on her mistakes in the fifth game, when she struggled with her serves and serve returns. Ishikawa eventually lost 11-8, 3-11, 11-9, 11-5, 11-5.
The four-day event features the highest-ranked male and female players. It was organized by the ITTF as a one-off replacement for the World Tour Grand Finals, which was scheduled for Dec. 10 to 13 but canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Harimoto, the 2018 World Tour Grand Finals men’s singles champion, and Ishikawa, the 2014 women’s singles champion, were named to Japan’s Tokyo Olympics team in January.
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