Japan Makes 1st World Championships Mixed Double Final Since 1977

Suzhou, China, April 30, 2015: The fifth day of the Qoros 2015 World Table Tennis Championships concluded with the Japanese mixed doubles duo Kasumi ISHIKAWA and Maharu YOSHIMURA becomingJapan’s first mixed doubles finalists since 1977.

The Japanese pair ended the defending champions KIM Jong and KIM Hyok Bong from North Korea to become hopes of defending their title they won two years ago in Paris 4-2 (11-8, 5-11, 11-6, 10-12, 11-7, 11-4) to guarantee at least a silver medal for Japan in Suzhou.

ISHIKAWA and YOSHIMURA will face mixed nations pair XU Xin (CHN) and YANG Haeun (KOR) tomorrow night in the final battle for the title.

The victory boosted the Japanese team spirit after suffering two days of upsets and defeats since the commencement of the main draws, a confident ISHIKAWA shared: “Our goal is to perform our own ability, and we have confidence to play in our own level.”

While being successful in the mixed doubles event, number five seed ISHIKAWA fell in the hands of the unseeded MU Zi from the host country, being outclassed 0-4 (7-11, 10-12, 10-12, 4-11) in the round of 32.

ISHIKAWA was not the only defeat suffered by the Japanese team, her colleagues in the men’s doubles, Masataka MORIZONO and Yuya OSHIMA, joined her on the Japanese casualty list of the day.

MORIZONO and OSHIMA came so close to the biggest upset in Suzhou against the tournament hot favorites, XU Xin and ZHANG Jike (CHN). Despite having two match points, ZHANG & XU were too good in the end winning 4-3 (9-11, 11-8, 11-7, 9-11, 10-12, 11-9, 12-10) to advance to the semifinals of the Men’s Doubles event.

Jun MIZUTANI (JPN), on the other hand, narrowly escape elimination scares from JUNG Youngsik (KOR), to keep the Japanese singles dream alive in Suzhou. The pair engaged in an epic 7-games thriller, with MIZUTANI claiming victory 4-3 (4-11, 9-11, 11-6, 11-4, 10-12, 11-9, 13-11).

In the other Men’s Singles round of 32 matches, Patrick FRANZISKA (GER) and Timo BOLL (GER) faced Portugal’s Marcos FREITAS and Joao MONTEIRO respectively to spark off an all-European battle.

56th in the world, FRANZISKA pulled off an amazing performance to upset FREITAS, a player he has never won a game against before 4-1 (13-11, 11-7, 12-10, 5-11, 11-6) to continue his quest for gold.

BOLL however faced tough challenge from FREITAS’s teammate MONTEIRO on his way to the round of 16. The 7th ranked German was pushed into a full-length battle against MONTEIRO. The 34 year old eventually won 4-3 (11-5, 7-11, 10-12, 14-12, 11-7, 3-11, 12-10).

Tomorrow sees the round of 16 of the men’s and women’s singles and the mixed doubles final. —- Photo credit: Remy Gros

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