18 Apr 2024

The main draw of the ITTF Men’s and Women’s World Cup in Macao commenced with electrifying intensity, marking a day filled with dramatic comebacks and stunning upsets. 

In the first big upset of the day, 15 year old Japanese sensation Miwa Harimoto makes a stunning entrance in her first main draw appearance at a Women’s World Cup defeating third seed Wang Yidi in a thrilling 4-1 victory (12-10, 6-11, 11-8, 11-6, 16-14). Despite Wang’s valiant efforts to level the match, Harimoto maintained her momentum and kept her cool under immense pressure, ultimately securing a resounding victory.

‘Compared to my usual performance, I felt evenly matched with my opponent during rallies today, which I reckon contributed the most to my victory. Previously, it’s like I had about a 30% advantage while my opponent had a 70% advantage, both in terms of rally performance and points gained. However, today, I was able to engage in rallies with minimal errors. Also, it’s great that I executed the tactics that I’ve been working on meticulously, from my service and receive to third-ball and fifth-ball attacks. I’ll put my best foot forward and fight one match at a time. I’ll strive to play my best while thinking carefully about how I’m going to play during each match.’ 

In the Men’s World Cup, not to be outshone Sweden’s Anton Kallberg delivered a captivating performance, thwarting 3rd seed Liang Jingkun’s comeback attempt in a mesmerising showdown. With a thrilling victory in the decider match (3-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-6, 8-11, 9-11, 11-6), Kallberg  left fans in Macao utterly stunned by the sheer intensity and skill displayed. Kallberg moves to the quarterfinals as the only European player left in the World Cup, where he will face Tomokazu Harimoto. 

‘I think there’s a reason for me to win over Liang Jingkun twice. Maybe I can make him feel a bit uncomfortable and try to play really fast and put him under a lot of pressure. He’s very good at catching a lot of balls. He has a lot of spin on all these strokes. But I’m trying to capitalise on it that he’s sometimes playing a bit safe. So I can have some chances to finish off the points fast. But I know just a few weeks ago, I lost 3-2 with two 11-9, and I wanted revenge for that match. Now I’m so happy. I don’t know who I’m playing in the quarterfinal yet. I think I’ll just enjoy this victory for a couple of hours, try to get some rest and then start to prepare. And I’m looking forward to playing in front of many fans tomorrow again.’ 

Elsewhere in the draw, reigning Men’s World Cup champion faced off against World Youth Champion Lin Shidong in a nail-biting encounter that had spectators on the edge of their seats. Despite a rocky start, Fan displayed incredible resilience, staging a remarkable comeback from a 3-1 deficit. The tension reached its peak in the decisive match, with Fan clinching victory in a tense 15-13 showdown in the decider match, securing his spot in the next round and avenging his Singapore Smash 2024 loss 4-3 (7-11, 11-9, 10-12, 6-11, 11-9, 13-11, 15-13). 

2016 Women’s World Cup winner, Miu Hirano narrowly escapes an upset, displaying remarkable resilience as she edges past Jeon Jihee in a hard-fought battle. With a 4-3 victory (3-11, 10-12, 12-10, 11-8, 11-8, 4-11, 11-6), Hirano secured her spot in the quarterfinals. Despite Jeon’s initial dominance in claiming the first two games, Hirano refused to yield, mounting a fierce comeback to eventually take the win. Now, Hirano gears up to face fellow Women’s World Cup champion Chen Meng in what promises to be an electrifying quarter final clash.

‘My opponent controlled the pace in the first two games. Managing to win the third game despite how challenging it was has been significant to my victory. It’s different today than yesterday and I have a feeling of returning to the usual conditions. At the beginning of the match, I failed to get into the groove quickly. I’ll reflect on that for tomorrow and beyond. I don’t know who I’ll play next, but I do know it’s highly possible a higher-ranked player than me. I’ll work hard with a challenger’s mindset, striving to maintain a winning streak.’

With top seeds knocked out, bringing more unpredictability and excitement to the table. Prepare for more battles to unfold at Galaxy Arena, the stage is set for an unforgettable final few days of the ITTF Men’s and Women’s World Cup. 

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