Czech, August 27, 2017: Tomokazu HARIMOTO (JPN) has set the new record to become the youngest ever ITTF World Tour Champion at 14 years and 61 days old today, after defeating table tennis legend Timo BOLL (GER) at the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Czech Open (Tomokazu Harimoto Beats Legendary Boll).
The 14-year-old Japanese has broken the record previously set by China’s YU Ziyang, who took the crown at the 2014 Japan Open at 16 years and 30 days old.
HARIMOTO was no stranger to breaking records on the international table tennis scene over the past year, becoming the youngest World Tour U21 Men’s Singles Champion at the 2016 Japan Open, youngest World Junior Champion in 2016, and being the youngest ever player to make it to the quarterfinals of a World Championships earlier in June this year.
Facing off BOLL who beat him earlier at the 2017 China Open in June, HARIMOTO was fearless on court against the former world number one, pushing the top seed to his full limit in the final. The Japanese teenager eventually prevailed 4-2 (11-3, 4-11, 8-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-9) to set the new record.
“My age doesn’t matter and I must play against and fight against everyone. This is my second World Tour final, I lost the last time, this time I had to change to win the title.” shared HARIMOTO. “For Tokyo 2020, I hope to win the Gold for both Singles and Team events! I still need to practice harder and continue fighting towards my dream!”
HARIMOTO’s road to making his second final appearance has not been smooth, having played several tough and amazing matches that thrilled the local crowd at the Omega Sport Center in Olomouc, including saving five match points against Brazil’s Hugo CALDERANO to win the semifinals 16-14 in the decider.
The 2017 Czech Open proved Japan’s rise in the sport, with the nation’s other up-and-coming star Mima ITO taking home the Women’s Singles title from her senior Kasumi ISHIKAWA with a convincing 4-1 (11-5, 15-13, 11-3, 9-11, 11-4) victory in the all-Japanese final.
The 16-year-old, who was part of the Japanese team who won Bronze at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, shared “I have been playing in the international scene for some years now, so age doesn’t matter anymore.
I’m young now winning this tournament, but my main goal will be to claim the Gold at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. I’m feeling tired now, but I’ll definitely work on my physical condition and power as preparation for future events.”
Together with teammate Hina HAYATA, ITO also claimed the Women’s Doubles title, accounting for mixed associations pair Georgina POTA (HUN) and Matilda EKHOLM (SWE) 3-2 (11-5, 8-11, 8-11, 11-6, 11-8).
Top seeded Men’s Doubles pair Patrick FRANZISKA (GER) and Jonathan GROTH (DEN) prevented a clean sweep of Gold by Japan at the Czech Open, prevailing 3-1 (11-6, 8-11, 11-9, 11-8) against Japanese pair Jin UEDA and Maharu YOSHIMURA.
With the conclusion of the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Czech Open, the World Tour will resume at the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Platinum, Austrian Open, from 21-24 September 2017, in Linz. —- ITTF
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