by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Masataka Morizono and Misaki Morizono created history when they both won in China in 2013, the only brother and sister act to achieve such a feat on the ITTF World Tour.
Additionally, in the same year Masataka Morizono secured the Under 21 Men’s Singles title in Germany, whilst Misaki Morizono donned the Under 21 Women’s Singles crown in Russia.
In Panagyrushite, Mizuki Morizono somewhat excelled expectations. She was the no.4 seed, she was the lowest rated of those who reached the penultimate round. At the semi-final stage she beat colleague Kyoka Kato, the top seed (11-9, 11-4, 11-8), before overcoming Miyu Maeda, the no.2 seed, also from Japan, in the final (11-9, 11-4, 9-11, 11-5). In the counterpart semi-final Miyu Maeda had ended the hopes of Puerto Rico’s Adriana Diaz, the no.3 seed (11-2, 11-6, 11-2).
Conversely the win of Mizuki Oikawa, the no.2 seed, was more predictable. Three such titles to his credit, having won in 2012 in Belarus, in 2014 in Chile and last year in Australia; he entered the second day as the favourite.
He accounted for colleague Yuma Tsuboi, the no.4 seed (11-2, 9-11, 11-5, 11-2) at the semi-final stage, prior to securing the title at the expense of India’s Manav Vikash Thakkar, the no.26 seed (11-9, 11-9, 11-9). Notably Manav Vikash Thakkar had continued his quite incredible run of form by ousting the Czech Republic’s Tomas Polansky, the no.5 seed (11-8, 11-6, 5-11, 11-8) in the semi-finals.
Titles decided, in the Men’s Singles and Women’s Singles events, the task was to gain a place in the main event.
Emina Haziahmetovic of Bosnia Herzegovina and Turkey’s Sibel Altinkaya alongside Chinese Taipei’s Wang Yi-Ju, Lin Chia-Hsun and Lee Yu-Peng proved as surprise winners of their respective Women’s Singles groups. A total of 16 groups in the qualification tournament, first place only reserved progress to the main event.
Meanwhile, in the Men’s Singles qualification tournament, where a preliminary round was needed, Chinese Taipei’s Hung Tze-Hsiang and Peng Wang-Wei, in addition to Frenchman Enzo Angles and Japan’s Yukiya Uda emerged successful against the odds.
Furthermore, there was one more surprise depending on your point of view. Listed at no.90 on the current Men’s World Rankings and the winner last year in Belgium, India’s Sathiyan Gnanasekaran was beaten by Japan’s Taku Takakiwa (7-11, 11-7, 11-9, 11-2, 11-6), a player with no current World Ranking owing to an absence from international play.
However, on the 2013 ITTF World Tour in Austria, Taku Takakiwa did beat a quite renowned opponent at the quarter-final stage of the Men’s Singles event; he overcame China’s Zhang Jike, at the time the reigning Olympic and World champion.
Not a bad result for a qualifier! The seeds need to beware!