England Stuns Japan At 2018 World Team Championships

(Photo: ITTF)

England have pulled off a massive upset at the 2018 World Team Table Tennis Championships in the Swedish city of Halmstad following an outstanding display from the 2016 bronze medallists on Monday 30th April.

Victorious earlier in the day against Chinese Taipei, Team England then met with Japan who they lost out to at the semi-finals stage of the 2016 event in Kuala Lumpur but on this occasion it was a very different outcome.

Paul Drinkhall put up a valiant fight in the opening fixture of the tie only to lose out to Jun Mizutani across five games (7-11, 11-5, 11-3, 5-11, 4-11) but Liam Pitchford then tied the scores at 1-1 with a thunderous display against Tomokazu Harimoto (11-5, 11-5, 11-3).

On paper you would have then expected to see Japan retake the lead in the third fixture as Koki Niwa stepped up to take on Sam Walker as the big favourite, however, in a shocking twist it was the Englishman who came away with the win (11-9, 12-10, 11-8) to put England ahead for the first time in the tie.

“Koki Niwa is a tremendous player but not today! No seriously he is a tremendous player but you must enter a match with the belief that you can win; we have such a good team spirit, we are all good friends and we all pull for each other. Now we must get ready for tomorrow.” – Sam Walker

With England needing just one more win to complete the upset Liam Pitchford delivered an amazing performance, seeing off Jun Mizutani in dramatic fashion (11-4, 9-11, 11-9, 6-11, 11-8) to condemn second seeds Japan to a 3-1 defeat.

“This morning Paul had given us a great start against Chinese Taipei and today against Jun Mizutani he played really well; his performances today really gave me confidence before I played Tomokazu Harimoto. I beat him at the World Team Cup in February and today I just tried to impose my game on him.” – Liam Pitchford

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