Tang Peng the architect of Japan's defeat
Photo By: An Sung Ho
2012 Olympic Games
No medal in the table tennis events at an Olympic Games despite the rich tradition of success at World title events; for the Japanese men, the drought continues.
At the quarter-final stage of the Menís Team event at the London Olympic Games on the morning of Sunday 5th August, the Land of the Rising Sun suffered once again in the arena of the five rings.
An unbeaten performance by Jun Mizutani was not sufficient to stave off defeat.
Japan suffered a three-two reverse again Hong Kong with Tang Peng proving the hero for the Special Administrative Region of China.
At the end of a contest lasting three hours and 20 minutes with the 5,000 strong crowd, a full house, the sixth seeds ended the hopes of the third seeds.
Started in Positive Manner
Matters started in a positive fashion for Japan with Jun Mizutani beating Jiang Tianyi but it was close, very close as befitted the overall contest.
The Japanese star recorded a three games to one success but in every game the score stood at 8-all; every game was tension packed, on the proverbial knife-edge.
Jun Mizutani won 11-8, 11-9, 9-11, 11-9.
Hong Kong Recovers
Japan ahead but immediately Hong Kong recovered with Tang Peng, the player who was to eventually emerge as his teamís hero, beating Seiya Kishikawa in what was to proved the pattern of the whole fixture.
He won in four games (11-7, 7-11. 11-9, 11-7); in fact all five contests were decided in five games. A powerful forehand combined with fast attacks from backhand, the side of the racket on which he uses short pimpled rubber, proved most effective.
One match apiece, next came what was to prove the pivotal contest.
Koki Niwa entered the fray in partnership with Seiya Kishikawa; they faced Jiang Tianyi and Leung Chu Yan. The Japanese duo won the first game; then in the second they sped into a 6-0 lead; it seemed they were progressing from strength to strength and they would take their team into a two-one lead.
It was to be the reverse scenario; Jiang Tianyi and Leung Chu Yan saved two match points to level at 10-all; the saved again at 10-11 before winning the next two points to secure the game.
The recovery changed the momentum of the duel.
Leung Chu Yan and Jiang Tianyi won the contest (8-11, 14-12, 11-8, 13-11); Hong Kong held a narrow but precious lead.
Jun Mizutani Levels
Facing defeat, Jun Mizutani returned to the fray to face Leung Chu Yan; the Hong Kong penholder, who is very traditional in style, with fast footwork and a fast forehand being his trademark characteristics, experienced problems returning the Mizutani service from short in the forehand.
It was a problem he had experienced earlier in the doubles when receiving from Koki Niwa. Equally, using the modern day penhold backhand from the reverse side of the racket is not his fore; rarely did he exploit that skill and when he did; never did he win the point.
Jun Mizutani recovered from an opening game deficit to level matters in the fixture; he won 6-11, 11-5, 13-11, 11-8.
Therefore, a contest featuring 17 year old Koki Niwa against Tang Peng ensued. Koki Niwa captured the opening game but then the power and the determination of the Hong Kong man gradually dominated matters.
Tang Peng Outstanding
It was the highest level at which Tang Peng had performed this year; he rose to the occasion.
He followed the match tradition by recording a four games win (7-11, 11-7, 11-7, 11-5); a place in the semi-finals was reserved.
A thrilling contest and much different when compared with the duel that was enacted on the adjacent table, where China, the top seeds, overwhelmed Singapore by three matches to nil.
Ma Long beat Gao Ning (11-4, 11-5, 11-6), Wang Hao overcame Zhan Jian (11-8, 11-3, 11-4) with the doubles pairing of Wang Hao and Zhang Jike bringing matters to an end.
They beat Yang Zi and Zhan Jian in three straight games (11-8, 11-9, 11-3); a quite awesome performance.
The tag of Chinese being the favourites was thoroughly justified.