Sole overnight leader Terunofuji opened up a two-win buffer Monday at the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament, improving to a perfect 9-0 while his closest rival, fellow ozeki Takakeisho, suffered a second defeat.

In the most anticipated bout of Day 9 at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan, Terunofuji survived a close contest against sekiwake Takayasu, who has dominated their recent head-to-head meetings.

Takayasu (6-3) kept Terunofuji away from his belt and almost pulled him down as the pair exchanged blows. With Takayasu driving him to the edge, Terunofuji slapped down the sekiwake just before stepping out.

The day’s results put the 29-year-old Mongolian in the driver’s seat for a second straight championship in his comeback tournament as an ozeki, a rank he last held in September 2017.

Takakeisho (7-2) dropped off the pace after being pushed out by komusubi Daieisho (4-5). Failing to gain momentum from the jump, Takakeisho was driven over the edge by the winner of the New Year tournament, who has been battling calf problems.

“I attacked well today. My opening charge wasn’t quite as sharp as I had wanted, but I feel OK,” Daieisho said.

No. 5 maegashira Hoshoryu (4-5) earned another big win, tripping up Shodai for his second straight victory over an ozeki.

The 21-year-old nephew of Mongolian great Asashoryu followed up his defeat of Asanoyama by flooring demotion-threatened kadoban ozeki Shodai (5-4) with an outside leg trip.

“I figured I had to go all out and attack from the start (as) my opponent was an ozeki and strong. I wasn’t aiming for the leg trip, it was just how my body moved after we ended up in that position,” said Hoshoryu, who has had limited contact with his famous uncle during the meet. “I haven’t talked to him, but I’m pretty sure he was watching the match.”

Asanoyama improved to 5-4 with an armlock throw against No. 5 Onosho (6-3).

No. 1 Hokutofuji pushed out sekiwake Takanosho to earn a third straight win after opening the tournament 0-6. Takanosho (3-6) resisted Hokutofuji (3-6) with his heels against the straw, but the maegashira eventually drove his higher-ranked opponent over the edge.

Komusubi Mitakeumi improved to 7-2 by downing dangerous No. 1 Wakatakakage (5-4), whose previous victims here include a pair of ozeki and both sekiwake.

Two-time Emperor’s Cup winner Mitakeumi dodged the maegashira’s initial charge and sent him to the clay with an overarm throw.

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