10 Oct 2018

Tested but on the early afternoon of Wednesday 10th October, Japan’s Tomokazu Harimoto, the top seed in the Men’s Singles event at the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games, survived; for the second seed, Kanak Jha of the United States, he was not to experience the same fortune.

He was beaten by China’s Wang Chuqin, he no.6 seed (11-7, 11-7, 11-5, 11-4) after Tomokazu Harimoto had overcome Chinese Taipei’s Lin Yun-Yu, the no.4 seed, in full distance seven games contest (6-11, 13-11, 14-12, 11-4, 9-11, 5-11, 11-6).

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Stay close win matches, it was to prove a crucial difference in the contest between Tomokazu Harimoto and Lin Yun-Ju; time and again Lin Yun-Ju, one of the most talented players you could wish to behold, a young man with exquisite hand skills, was forced back from the table.

Throughout the contest Lin Yun-Yu caused Tomokazu Harimoto problems with subtle service variations short to the forehand; from both players the modern day backhand return of service from the forehand side of the table, the so called “banana” was evident and eventually for Tomokazu Harimoto bore fruit.

Lin Yun-Ju, the more phlegmatic character, captured the opening game before in both the second and third games having chances to extend the advantage; exuberant as always, wearing his heart on his sleeve, Tomokazu Harimoto after winning close second and third games, secured the fourth after, when trailing 5-2 Lin Yun-Ju, had called “Time Out”.

Facing defeat, to his great credit, Lin Yu-Ju responded, he secured the next two games to force a decider; crucially, Tomokazu Harimoto was always ahead, Lin Yun-Ju had to play catch-up. At the change of ends Tomokazu Harimoto led 5-3 but at 6-5 the gap was down to one point. Tomokazu Harimoto elected for “Time Out”; it proved a crucial pause. He surrendered just one more point.

Success for Tomokazu Harimoto, disappointment for Lin Yun-Ju but in the now three years of the Youth Olympic Games had we not witnessed one of the best ever matches?

Tense moments for Tomokazu Harimoto, for Wang Chuqin it was less so; he could not have made a better start. He won the first six points of the opening game against Kanak Jha; no doubt it settled the nerves. The first attack, especially from the backhand was severe, after securing the second game, Wang Chuqin was full of confidence; for Kanak Jha there was nowhere to hide.

“I think I’ve become used to the environment and the playing field so I have been to play better and better. Next match against Harimoto, he’s now one of the top two players in the Japanese senior team and has represented Japan in several international tournaments, he’s more experienced and there’s definitely things that I can learn from him. He has also defeated many of the top players in our Chinese National team, so he’s a strong player but I have the desire to win the title here and am confident I can fight against him. In terms of skills, I think we are on the same level, what’s important will be on court adaptation and performance.” Wang Chuqin

Defeats but both Lin Jun-Yu and Kanak Jha set new standards for their respective national associations; at a Youth Olympic Games, Kanak Jha is the first player from the United States to reach a Men’s Singles semi-final; Lin Yun-Ju is the first player from Chinese Taipei to reach the penultimate round in any discipline.

The bronze medal match and final is scheduled for later in the day.

Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games Tomokazu Harimoto Lin Yun -Ju Kanak Jha Wang Chuqin

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Day 9 - Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games