by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
It was very much revenge for Yuto Kizukuri, two months ago in the Under 21 Men’s Singles final in Incheon, he had been beaten by Korea’s Lim Jonghoon; last year, at the same stage, he had experienced defeat in Australia when losing to colleague, Mizuki Oikawa.
In Chengdu, Yuto Kizukuri, the no.7 seed, accounted for Lim Jonghoon, the no.3 seed, in the penultimate round (11-9, 11-6, 11-6), prior to overcoming Mizuki Oikawa, the no.4 seed, by the narrowest of decisions in the final (8-11, 11-5, 11-6, 6-11, 11-9). In the counterpart semi-final, Mizuki Oikawa had beaten Kazuhiro Yoshimura, the no.8 seed (11-9, 11-7, 12-10).
A first ITTF World Tour Under 21 title for Yuto Kizukuri; it was the same for Maki Shiomi, the player who currently leads the ITTF World Junior Circuit Standings. Earlier this year she won the Junior Girls’ Singles title in the Czech Republic, Sweden and Spain whilst being the runner up in France.
Impressively in Chengdu, the no.3 seed, she accounted for colleague, Kyoka Kato, the no.5 seed, in the final (4-11, 11-7, 11-5, 12-10), having at the semi-final stage caused a major upset by beating Hong Kong’s Doo Hoi Kem, the top seed and winner earlier this year at the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Qatar Open in Doha. Maki Shiomi, rising to the challenge emerged successful in four games (5-11, 12-10, 15-13, 11-5).
An upset at the semi-final stage; it was the same in the opposite half of the draw but to a lesser extent; Kyoka Kato, the no.5 seed, overcame Saki Shibata, the no.4 seed and winner last year in Bulgaria (7-11, 11-5, 11-7, 12-10).
Notably it is the second time this year that a Japanese player has won an Under 21 ITTF World Tour Men’s Singles title, Asuka Sakai won in India; it is the fourth time the country has secured an Under 21 Women’s Singles title.
Last week Yuka Umemura succeeded on home soil in Tokyo; earlier in the year Sakura Mori won in India, Minami Ando in Korea.