by Ian Marshall, Editor
At the final hurdle Tomokazu Harimoto and Hina Hayata beat fellow qualifiers, Lin Gaoyuan and colleague Zhu Yuling (11-5, 4-11, 11-5, 11-6); Miyuu Kihara and Miyu Nagasaki, the top seeds, overcame Chinese Taipei’s Chen Szu-Yu and Cheng Hsien-Tzu, the no.6 seeds (11-8, 11-7, 7-11, 9-11, 11-4).
A platinum tournament, the very highest level, yet all four Japanese players are teenagers!
Hina Hayata is 19 years old, Miyu Nagasaki is 17 years, Tomokazu Harimoto is 16 years and Myuu Kihara is only 15 years of age. Add their ages together and judging by government policies in some countries they would still not be able to claim their pensions!
So, surely, they must be the youngest ever; for Miyuu Kihara and Miyu Nagasaki it is not the situation.
They must bow to their compatriots; Miu Hirano and Mima Ito reserved their place in the Guinness Book of records when in 2014 they won the women’s doubles title in Magdeburg at the ITTF World Tour German Open. Both at the time were 13 years old.
However, a combined age of only 35 years, Tomokazu Harimoto and Hina Hayata must be the youngest mixed doubles winners ever on the ITTF World Tour? Not so, earlier this year when Korea Republic’s Cho Daeseong and Shin Yubin won in August in the Czech Republic, their combined ages was 31 years! Cho Daeseong 16 years old, Shin Yubin one year younger.
Success and on the ITTF World Tour one step higher for both pairs; Tomokazu Harimoto and Hina Hayata had been the runners up on home soil in June in Sapporo, Miyuu Kihara and Miu Nagasaki more recently in October in Germany.
Notably for Miyuu Kihara and Miu Nagasaki it was their third women’s doubles title of the year, at ITTF Challenge Series tournaments, they had won in Croatia and Slovenia.
Adding to the list of successes, it was the same for Liang Jingkun and Lin Gaoyuan; the no.3 seeds, at the final hurdle they beat the top seeds, the Korea Republic duo formed by Jeoung Youngsik and Lee Sangsu (11-8, 12-10, 11-7). Thus they emulated the feat of the first week of October when they had won in Sweden.
Top seeds in form
Defeat for the top seeds, not in the men’s singles nor in the women’s singles; respectively Fan Zhendong, alongside colleague Zhu Yuling, booked semi-final places.
At the quarter-final stage Fan Zhendong beat Chinese Taipei’s Lin Yun-Ju, the no.8 seed (11-4, 11-6, 11-8, 9-11, 7-11, 11-8), he now meets Timo Boll, the no.5 seed, the winner in opposition to colleague, Dimitrij Ovtcharov, the no.10 seed (11-8, 12-10, 10-12, 12-10, 11-8).
China prominent in the top half of the draw, it is the same in the lower half. Qualifier Zhao Zihao beat Hong Kong’s Wong Chun Ting, the no.14 seed (7-11, 11-4, 11-7, 7-11, 9-11, 11-8, 11-6) to reach his first ever ITTF World Tour men’s singles semi-final. He now meets Brazil’s Hugo Calderano, the no.4 seed, the quarter-final winner in opposition to Japan’s Koki Niwa, the no.9 seed (7-11, 11-9, 11-1, 14-12, 9-11, 11-8).
Progress for Zhao Zihao having started his journey four days earlier, it was the same for compatriot, Qian Tianyi. She beat fellow qualifier, Hina Hayata (11-8, 17-15, 9-11, 6-11, 11-7, 11-3) and now meets a further Japanese player in the semi-final. She confronts Mima Ito, the no.3 seed, the quarter-final winner in opposition to Chinese Taipei’s Cheng I-Ching, the no.6 seed (3-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-8, 11-8).
Hard fought contests, it was even harder for Zhu Yuling, she was severely tested by colleague and qualifier Gu Yuting; she had to recover from a three games to one deficit to secure victory (11-5, 5-11, 9-11, 7-11, 11-3, 11-9, 11-7). Now in the penultimate round another colleague who was required to qualify awaits; Zhu Yuling confronts Wang Yidi, the quarter-final winner in opposition to He Zhuojia, the no.11 seed (11-6, 9-11, 11-4, 11-9, 11-6) and also from China.
Play in Linz concludes on Sunday 17th November.