by Simon Daish
Fifth seeds Xu Xin and Zhu Yuling booked their spot in the final with a strong 3-0 display against the title-winning pair from the 2019 China Open and 2019 Hong Kong Open in Lin Yun-Ju and Cheng I-Ching earlier in the day.
A convincing victory for the Chinese combination but a difficult challenge awaited them at the final hurdle in the form of Japan’s Tomokazu Harimoto and Hina Hayata. Starting their journey in the qualification tournament the host nation duo impressively fought their way through the field in Sapporo before sealing their spot in the final with a fine win at the expense of fellow qualifiers Fan Zhendong and Ding Ning (11-7, 11-9, 13-15, 11-9).
One Chinese pair defeated – could the young Japanese stars topple another in the gold medal contest?
Very little separated the two opposing partnerships in the early stages of the final with deuce being required in game one. Claiming back-to-back points when it mattered most, the opening game belonged to Xu Xin and Zhu Yuling.
With the opening game going in China’s favour the question became: could Tomokazu Harimoto and Hina Hayata respond? Despite the backing of the home crowd at the Hokkaido Prefectural Sports Center the answer was not one they had been hoping for.
Growing stronger as the final progressed Xu Xin and Zhu Yuling prevented their opponents from finding any form of rhythm in the match, winning the games two and three by clear margins to seal the title (12-10, 11-6, 11-5).
Partnering Liu Shiwen to gold in Budapest and Doha, Xu Xin has now collected his third mixed doubles titles on the 2019 ITTF World Tour and is quickly becoming a leading name in the doubles scene.