by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Searching for the last time a Chinese pairing lost to adversaries from foreign shores after hold a two games to nil lead and, furthermore on home soil when the incumbent World champions, is like looking for snow in a Sahara desert oasis.
Trying to find a young pairing or younger player to have reached an ITTF World Tour Men’s Doubles final is much easier; there isn’t one.
Tomokazu Harimoto is just four days short of his 14th birthday, he is 13 years and 361 days old; he compatriot Yuto Kizukuri is 16 years and 244 days old.
However, they cannot compare with their female compatriots Miu Hirano and Mima Ito; when they won the Women’s Doubles title at the GAC Group 2014 ITTF World Tour German Open on Sunday 30th March, Mima Ito was 13 years 160 days old; Miu Hirano 13 years and 350 days old.
The result overshadows the fact that the outcome in Chengdu is an all Japanese Men’s Doubles final; they meet Jin Ueda and Maharu Yoshimura.
Likewise not seeded, at the quarter-final stage Jin Ueda and Maharu Yoshimura beat the French pairing of Tristan Flore and Emmanuel Lebesson (9-11, 11-9, 11-9, 12-10), before overcoming the Swedish pairing of Kristian Karlsson and Jon Persson, the no.8 seeds (11-4, 8-11, 11-6, 11-7).
At the quarter-final stage, Kristian Karlsson and Jon Persson had received a walk-over against China’s Ma Long and Zhang Jike, the no.3 seeds; Zhang Jike being injured.
In the opposite half of the draw, in the round of the last eight, Tomokazu Harimoto and Yuto Kizukuri had beaten Andrea Landrieu and Romain Lorentz, like Tristan Flore and Emmanuel Lebesson from France (11-7, 11-4, 12-10); Fan Zhendong and Xu Xin had accounted for Hong Kong’s Ho Kwan Kit and Wong Chun Ting (10-12, 11-8, 11-7, 13-11).
The Men’s Doubles final is scheduled for the afternoon of Sunday 25th June.
Reaction to win recorded by Tomokazu Harimoto and Yuto Kizukuri
“We were no match for them in the first two games, we could not cope with their power but we managed to adapt slowly, we are very happy to win eventually. We didn’t think too much prior to the match, we just wanted to play our best, we are pleased with the result, next up is the final, we hope to win gold.” Yuto Kizukuri
“We played as the challengers in the match, at the start we gave ourselves too much pressure but as the match progressed, we told ourselves to just face them like other players. We never gave up in the match and we were ready to fight till the end. It still feels like a dream to me, I never thought that we would reach this position. Next we will face our Japanese seniors in the final, so I’m nervous. Even though both pairs are Japanese, we are still determined to put up our best performance like we did in this match and win gold.” Tomokazu Harimoto
“We were leading at the start, but weren’t meticulous enough in the third game, we also gave them more room in the crucial points in the fourth and fifth games I think we let our guard down after winning the first two games; it got harder to focus towards the end of the match. We did not have good luck, too many unforced errors. Towards the later part of the match, the threat from Kizukuri was greater and we missed match points. The last part was just out of our control.” Fan Zhendong
“Both of them fought aggressively, no matter whether they were leading or trailing. It was easier in the first two games. We are not familiar with Kizukuri and we are not used to his play and placement. We were too reserved in the fourth and fifth games.” Xu Xin