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Tomokazu Harimoto Beats Zhang Jike In Epic Japan Open Final

(Photo: ITTF)

Tomokazu Harimoto has won his second Men’s Singles title on the ITTF World Tour at just the age of 14 after successfully seeing off Zhang Jike at the 2018 Japan Open in Kitakyushu.

Victorious by a 4-0 score-line against the Chinese player only a week prior at the 2018 China Open, but this time around Japan’s Tomokazu Harimoto was pushed right down to the wire in a seven games thriller.

Responsible for eliminating Ma Long from the competition at the quarter-finals stage, Harimoto booked his spot in the final with a decent showing against Korea Republic’s Lee Sangsu while Zhang Jike’s bid to reach the final was somewhat aided with top seed Timo Boll withdrawing from their semi-finals tie due to a reoccurring neck injury.

One player completely dominated the early stages of the final and rather interestingly it was Zhang who controlled the pace in the opening two game as Harimoto struggled to find his footing. However, much to the delight of the home fans the momentum suddenly shifted in the opposite direction with Harimoto winning back-to-back games to level the match at 2-2.

Both players then went on to share the spoils across the next two ends to send the final into a decider which turned out to be the most dramatic game of the encounter.

Recovering from 5-1 down, Zhang stormed into a 9-10 lead but with the backing of the home crowd Harimoto saved a Championship Point before going on to hold one of his own. Zhang denied Harimoto to level the scores at 11 points apiece, but the latter competitor reclaimed his one point lead before sealing the win with an ace (9-11, 8-11, 11-9, 11-4, 10-12, 11-7, 13-11).

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