19 Apr 2024

As the ITTF Men’s and Women’s World Cup enters its final two days, the intensity of the action reaches new heights. The quarter-finals left spectators at the Galaxy Arena in awe, mesmerised by the brilliance unfolding on the table.

Japanese sensations, the Harimoto siblings, Tomokazu Harimoto and Miwa Harimoto are both through to the semi-finals and have secured themselves World Cup medals as the first pair of siblings to both medal at a singles World Cup. On top of this, Miwa is the youngest ever semi-finalist at a Women’s World Cup. 

‘I’m simply very happy [about Miwa making the semi-finals]. Miwa had a more excellent win than me, and I’m really thrilled about it.’ Tomokazu Harimoto. 

In the day’s opening match, Tomokazu secured his place in the next round with a commanding 4-2 victory over Anton Kallberg (9-11, 11-7, 9-11, 11-9, 11-9, 11-4), keeping fans on the edge of their seats from the very first point. A finalist at the 2019 ITTF Men’s World Cup, the question arises: does Harimoto have what it takes to claim the title this year?

‘With another match on the horizon, I certainly aspire to win. Now that I’ve made it to the semifinals, I hope to continue winning one match at a time.’ Tomokazu Harimoto 

Miwa, not to be overshadowed by her brother’s success, continued the family’s winning streak with a victory of her own. In an electrifying match, she triumphed over Adriana Diaz with a 4-1 victory (11-3, 11-7, 11-2, 8-11, 11-8), securing herself a medal in her debut Women’s World Cup. Her next challenge awaits against World No.2 Wang Manyu in the semi-finals.

‘I was defeated 2-3 the last time I played her. Heading into the match, I have fully reflected on our previous encounter, and discussed tactics and their execution with my coach. Despite losing one set to my opponent, I managed to quickly reset my mindset and I’m very happy to have won this.’ Miwa Harimoto.

In the day’s most stunning upset, World No.8 Lin Gaoyuan dashes Fan Zhendong’s hopes for a fifth Men’s World Cup title. Displaying mastery across the table, Lin sparked excitement in the Galaxy Arena as he overpowered Fan 4-2 (11-7, 6-11, 11-7, 6-11, 12-10, 11-7). He now faces Tomokazu Harimoto in the semi-finals tomorrow in his second Men’s World Cup semi-final appearance. 

‘I don’t feel any added pressure when facing Tomokazu Harimoto next. I’ll give it my all and showcase my tactical skills. I believe that’s the best approach for me at the moment. Constantly obsessing over winning isn’t helpful. I acknowledge that my abilities aren’t always consistently stable, so I’ll play at my own pace and aim to deliver an exciting match.’ Lin Gaoyuan

Meanwhile, World No.1s Sun Yingsha and Wang Chuqin sail through to the semi-finals, flawlessly dispatching Cheng I-Ching 4-2 and Jang Woojin 4-1 respectively. They will now both face past World Cup Champions Chen Meng and Ma Long in the semi-finals. 

‘I’m happy that both CHEN Meng and I made it to the Semi-Final. We know each other’s game well, which will make tomorrow’s match tougher. So, I’m just gonna head back tonight, get some rest, and hopefully come out tomorrow in my best form, ready to give it my all.’ Sun Yingsha. 

With anticipation building and the Galaxy Arena is poised for more table tennis brilliance, the semifinals promise to be nothing short of spectacular.

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