Bremen, Germany, March 23, 2015: 14-year-old Mima ITO (JPN) has shocked the table tennis world, by becoming the GAC Group 2015 ITTF World Tour German Open Champion today in Bremen, Germany.
ITO, who is currently 14 years and 152 days old,became the youngest ever ITTF World Tour women’s singles champion, after she defeated local hero Petrissa SOLJA (GER) 9-11, 13-11, 7-11, 11-7, 14-12, 12-10 in a dramatic final.
The Japanese sensation, who is used to making history after winning last year’s German Open women’s doubles title as a 13-year-old, stated:
“I am shocked and ecstatic to win such a big title at my age. This is just the beginning for me, I now need to continue playing at this high level and win many more titles.”
Clearly not satisfied with just the title here in Germany, the teenager has set higher goals:
“I now want to qualify for the Japanese team for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and do well. This will then give me the experience I need of realize my dream of gold in the singles and team event at my home Olympics, Tokyo 2020.”
Runner-up SOLJA won a remarkable 14 straight matches on her march to the final, which included picking up the women’s doubles and under-21 titles along the way. This was also a historic achievement, as no player has ever featured in all three finals at an ITTF World Tour event.
The world number 45 teamed up with German compatriot SHAN Xiaona to defeat the Hong Kong pair of DOO Hoi Kem & LEE Ho Ching 11-6,11-6,11-9 to claim the women’s doubles title and defeated Hina HAYATA (JPN) 11-9, 11-1, 11-5 to secure the under-21 title.
While ITO was winning her first ITTF World Tour event, MA Long won his 19th in the men’s singles.
MA clinched gold by defeating teammate and World and Olympic Champion ZHANG Jike in the final 11-9, 7-11, 8-11, 14-16, 11-6, 14-12, 11-8.
The 26-year-old world number one, had to save a match point before getting revenge over ZHANG, who defeated him just five months ago in the Liebherr 2014 Men’s World Cup.
“It was an extremely close match, with every single point being a big fight. Last time I played him in Germany I lost (at the Liebherr 2014 Men’s World Cup), which was very disappointing , so I am happy that we are now 1-1 and this time I can go home happy,” stated the now three times German Open Champion.
The victory gives now the three times German Open champion apsychologicaledge heading into the Qoros 2015 World Table Tennis Championships just 35 days way in Suzhou, China:
“This victory gives me massive confidence for the upcoming World Championships. ZHANG will be one of my biggest rivals there, so knowing I can beat him gives me great belief that I can win my first ever singles World Championships title.”
Germany picked up their third title for the event in the men’s doubles, where Timo BOLL partnered with Patrick FRANZISKA to defeat the Russian pair of Kirill SKACHKOV & Alexey SMIRNOV 11-6, 12-10, 4-11, 11-8.
The men’s under-21 final was an all Korean affair, with KIM Donghyun defeating close friend KIM Minhyeok 11-6, 14-12, 11-7.
The world’s best table tennis players now head to Almeria for the GAC Group World Tour Spanish Open which begins on 25 March 2015. —- ITTF