by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
At the quarter-final stage of the Men’s Singles event, the no.6 seed, he overcame Ma Long, the no.2 seed, in six games (11-8, 11-9, 11-7, 3-11, 2-11, 11-6); simply staggering.
“This is a dream come true, Ma Long is my idol, so beating him here in my home country is amazing. After leading three-nil and then Ma Long coming back, I had to relax and just play each point of the time as I got very nervous. I am so relieved that I could finish out the match. This is a new stepping stone for me to achieve my goal of becoming Olympic champion at Tokyo 2020.” Tomokazu Harimoto
“In the recent three years through his hard work he has improved a lot and has developed a lot while playing all the world’s top players. I didn’t play ideally today, making a lot of unnecessary mistakes and allowing my opponent to maintain the lead.” Ma Long
The success recorded by Tomokazu Harimoto overshadowed the fact that Ma Long will remain one short of Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus in terms of ITTF Men’s Singles wins.
Also the win put into the shadows two most notable seven games quarter-final contests. Zhang Jike overcame Japan’s Jin Ueda, the no.13 seed (9-11, 11-7, 9-11, 8-11, 13-11, 11-7, 11-7), Korea’s Lee Sangsu, the no.4 seed recovered from a three games to one deficit to beat Chinese Taipei’s Chuang Chih-Yuan, the no.9 seed (11-3, 8-11, 9-11, 3-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-4).
Full distance wins for Zhang Jike and Lee Sangsu, for Germany’s Timo Boll, the top seed, life was less traumatic; facing Japan’s Kenta Matsudaira, the no.8 seed for the fourth time in his career in a world ranking tournament, Timo Boll maintained his perfect record. He beat Kenta Matsudaira in five games (12-14, 13-11, 11-3, 11-7, 11-9).
At the semi-final stage Timo Boll meets Zhang Jike, Lee Sangsu opposes Tomokazu Harimoto; the penultimate round followed by the final will be played on Sunday 10th June.