31 Dec 2018

China’s Ding Ning won the Uncle Pop Women’s World Cup in Chengdu in September, one month later in Paris, compatriot Fan Zhendong, emerged victorious at the Liebherr Men’s World Cup.

The results meant that both regained their titles; two years earlier Fan Zhendong had won in Saarbrücken, previously Ding Ning had succeeded in 2011 in Singapore and in 2014 in Linz. Pertinently, she maintained her record of having won the event on every occasion when she had competed. However, in December both were to be upstaged.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Quite simply, nothing during the year surely matched the performance of Japan’s Tomokazu Harimoto when he won the Men’s Singles title at the Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals in Incheon on the evening of Sunday 16th December.

At the age of 15 years and 172 days, he struck gold and needless to relate he became the tournament’s youngest ever winner; it was more than consolation for the disappointment experienced at the Buenos Aires Youth Olympic Games, when beaten in the Men’s Singles final by China’s Wang Chuqin.

A staggering outcome and did the result not overshadow his performance on home soil at the Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Lion Japan Open when likewise he won the Men’s Singles title? On that occasion he caused China excruciating pain by beating the two most recent Olympic Games gold medallists and World champions. At the quarter-final stage he accounted for Ma Long, in the final Zhang Jike!

However, during the year, Tomokazu Harimoto did face one problem of note; a certain Englishman named Liam Pitchford. They met on two occasions, in London at the ITTF Team World Cup and in Halmstad at the Liebherr World Team Championships; on both occasions Liam Pitchford emerged victorious in straight games.

Furthermore, like Tomokazu Harimoto, I would suggest Liam Pitchford enjoyed the best year of his career; he started in January at no.79 on the Men’s World Rankings, he finished in December in the no.16 spot. Notably in between on the Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour, he recorded wins against Germany’s Timo Boll and Dimitrij Ovtcharov as well as in opposition to Ma Long.

Liam Pitchford enjoyed the best year of his career (Photo: Rémy Gros)

 

An outstanding year for Liam Pitchford and for Tomokazu Harimoto but let us be careful that following such incredible results we do not expect too much of Tomokazu Harimoto, he is only 15 years old and foreign coaches will have studied videos in detail.

However, if they need advice perhaps there is no need for videos? Just call Liam Pitchord!

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2018 Review of Year Tomokazu Harimoto Liam Pitchford