• Kyodo

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Front-runners Hakuho and Terunofuji maintained their perfect records after 11 days at the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament on Wednesday, opening a three-win gap over their closest pursuers in the title race.

Both Hakuho and Terunofuji faced tricky opponents but came away unscathed. Yokozuna Hakuho beat debutant komusubi Wakatakakage, while resurgent ozeki Terunofuji brushed aside sekiwake and two-time Emperor’s Cup winner Mitakeumi at Dolphins Arena.

Having missed all or part of the past six meets, 36-year-old Hakuho continued to dispel talk of retirement, powering past the nimble Wakatakakage (3-8), who is making his debut here at the three sanyaku ranks below yokozuna.

Although finding himself in a brief stalemate, Hakuho, who has won a record 44 career championships, seized a right underarm belt hold before crushing his opponent out near the edge of the raised ring in their first encounter.

Terunofuji did not need much time to get his latest win, ushering stocky Mitakeumi (6-5) out of the dohyō with remarkable ease after coming out on top in the initial charge.

The winner of the last two tournaments, Terunofuji can secure promotion to the sport’s highest rank of yokozuna with a title or a comparable record. Such a triumph would complete a stunning comeback from injuries that saw him fall to the fifth-tier jonidan in March 2019.

Starting the day as the only wrestler with eight wins, No. 11 Kotonowaka suffered a damaging loss which all but ensured the title will go to one of the two undefeated leaders.

Despite securing a right underarm belt hold, Kotonowaka (8-3) could not force Shimanoumi (6-5) on his back foot and allowed the No. 9 rank-and-filer to push him out.

Ozeki Shodai (6-5) fell at the hand of No. 5 Hoshoryu (8-3), the nephew of former Mongolian yokozuna Asashoryu, who got a well-deserved win.

Finding himself pushed to the edge, Hoshoryu countered to force his way back and withstood an attempted throw from Shodai to crush the ozeki out.

Sekiwake Takayasu (7-2-2) closed on a winning record for the tournament following a hard-fought victory over livewire No. 3 Tobizaru (3-8).

Takayasu produced a string of shoves before Tobizaru replied similarly in a heated contest. But Takayasu kept his cool and slapped down Tobizaru who looked to drive toward the former ozeki.

Debutant komusubi Meisei (6-5) showed a powerful drive and forced out No. 4 Kotoeko (2-9) in a blink.

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