by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Only 14 years and 60 days old, it is reasonable to presume that Tomokazu Harimoto is the youngest player ever to reach an ITTF World Tour Men’s Singles final; the assumption is true but not in Olomouc.
He was 13 years and 237 days old when he played in the Men’s Singles final earlier this year on Sunday 19th February at the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Indian Open in New Delhi; on that occasion, he was beaten in the final by Dimitrij Ovtcharov (11-6, 11-8, 11-4, 14-12). Now in Olomouc another celebrated German awaits.
“It is unbelievable that I won after my opponent had five match points. I have not been thinking about the final. I was concentrating only on this match.” Tomokazu Harimoto
Now should Tomokazu Harimoto topple Timo Boll, he will be youngest ever ITTF World Tour Men’s Singles winner.
Currently, the youngest is China’s Yu Ziyang, he was 16 years and 30 days old when he won in Japan in June 2014. Next in line is Kohei Sambe who, when he prevailed in Chile in the same year, was 16 years and 284 days old. He arrested the throne from China’s Fan Zhendong who 16 years and 292 days old when in 2013 he succeeded in Poland.
Notably for Tomokazu Harimoto it was the second time that he had beaten Hugo Calderano in an international tournament; last year at the 2016 ITTF World Tour Laox Japan Open, at the semi-final stage of the Under 21 Men’s Singles event, he had won in three straight games (11-8, 11-9, 11-9). Ever closer, next time Hugo!
A dramatic end to the day, the contest between Tomokazu Harimoto and Hugo Calderano rather overshadowed a most efficient performance by Timo Boll.
“It was important to have a good start. I had a great start, I had a good rhythm from the beginning and in the next three games I was mentally quite strong. When it was close, I made the right decisions; I was very focused in these moments, so I am satisfied.” Timo Boll
Somewhat unusually it was the first time that Timo Boll and Emmanuel Lebesson had met in a Men’s Singles event when world ranking points were at stake. The three previous meetings had all been in Men’s Team events.
Suffering from injury and well below his best, Timo Boll had lost to Emmanuel Lebesson at the Perfect 2016 World Team Championships but had prevailed at the Liebherr 2010 European Championships and at the TMS 2014 European Championships.
The final of the Men’s Singles event, the fourth match on the last day schedule, concludes the programme of events in Olomouc on Sunday 27th August; play starts at 12.00 noon with the Women’s Doubles title deciding contest.