• Kyodo

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Japanese players swept the singles events at the inaugural World Table Tennis Star Contender tournament in Doha on Saturday, with Mima Ito winning the women’s title before 17-year-old prodigy Tomokazu Harimoto claimed the men’s crown.

With Chinese players staying home because of concerns about the coronavirus, world No. 5 Harimoto was left as the highest-ranked competitor in the men’s draw.

The young star lived up to his top billing, defeating 42nd-ranked German Ruwen Filus 4-2 to lift the trophy at Lusail Sports Arena.

Harimoto opened up a two-point lead before Filus fought back to win the third and fourth games. But the Tokyo Olympic medal hopeful raised his level to claim the next two games and an 11-9, 11-9, 12-14, 11-5, 7-11, 11-8 victory.

The native of Sendai in northeastern Japan’s Tohoku region dedicated the win to people affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake following the 10-year anniversary of the disaster.

“I wanted to win this for the people of Tohoku and Miyagi (Prefecture). I hope as many people as possible could gain a little happiness,” Harimoto said.

The highest-ranked woman in the draw, world No. 2 Ito defeated Singapore’s Feng Tianwei 4-1 in the final.

The Rio Olympic team bronze medalist bounced back from a loss in the opening game to win the next four and seize victory 10-12, 12-10, 11-7, 11-8, 11-6.

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