by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
Hero of the hour for Japan was the irrepressible 14 year old Tomokazu Harimoto; after experiencing defeat in the second match of the fixture against Wong Chun Ting (11-9, 11-8, 11-7), he beat Lam Siu Hang in the concluding contest of the engagement.
Furthermore, it was a match which appeared to be slipping from the teenager’s grasp. Matters level at one game apiece; in the third game he trailed 3-8 only to win the next eight points to perform highway robbery. The recovery turned the match on its head; he secured the next in style to record a four games win (11-8, 8-11, 11-8, 11-5).
“I really have no idea what happened in that third game, none at all. I just kept trying; after that game my coach gave me good advice, he encouraged me. The support from my team mates really helped.” Tomokazu Harimoto
Heroics from Tomokazu Harimoto but the mainstay of success was Jin Ueda. In the opening match of the engagement, partnering Koki Niwa, a five games doubles success was recorded against Lam Sui Hang and Ng Pak Nam (9-11, 11-5, 3-11, 11-4, 11-6). Later in the third match of the fixture he restored the Japanese lead by beating Ng Pak Nam (11-4, 11-9, 14-12). The win with the benefit of hindsight was to prove crucial, in the immediate ensuing contest Koki Niwa was beaten by Wong Chun Ting (9-11, 13-11, 11-3, 11-8).
“I had a position of responsibility, I gave my best and everything worked out.” Jin Ueda
Jin Ueda the pivotal player, for Korea against France it was Jeong Sangeun. In the opening match of the engagement he partnered Jeoung Youngsik to success against Alexandre Cassin and Emmanuel Lebesson (11-8, 11-9, 8-11, 11-8), before in the decisive fifth contest defeating Quentin Robinot (11-7, 11-6, 11-2) to seal the victory.
“Jeoung Youngsik and myself have a good understanding. Before the last match again Quention Robinot I felt calm; I tried to focus on every point. It took some time to get used to his services but as the match progressed I was able to adapt. I felt I could win the rallies.” Jeong Sangeun
A successful venture for Jeong Sangeun, for Lee Sangsu quite the opposite; he was beaten by both Quentin Robinot (11-2, 12-10, 11-9) and by Emmanuel Lebesson (9-11, 11-5, 11-8, 4-11, 11-6). The one remaining Korean win was recorded by Jeoung Youngsik; in the third match of the fixture he overcame Alexandre Cassin (11-5, 7-11, 11-7, 8-11, 11-9).
Japan and Korea now meet in the semi-final on Saturday 24th February, the match is scheduled for 5.00pm (local time).