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Table Tennis: World Tour – Shiono shocks field to win Japan Open


World number 188 Masato Shiono caused one of the biggest upsets in table tennis history by winning the US$200,000 Japan Open, adding to the tally of golds for Team Japan in Yokohama.


Shiono, who had to pay his own entry fees to participate, beat three top 30 players, including world number six and World Championship doubles winner Chuang Chih-yuan on his way to clinching his first title on the ITTF World Tour.


The 27-year-old beat Xu Chenhao of China, who was playing in his first World Tour event, 11-3, 11-8, 11-6, 11-4 in the final. It was the first time two players have negotiated the qualification stage and proceeded to the final of a men’s singles event, and the first time two non-seeds have progressed to the gold medal match.


“I was so surprised to win the event, because I have never won a title in Japan before, let alone an event of this size,” Shiono said. “Playing in front of all these people and being live on national TV in Japan is a dream for me, I can’t believe it.”


“I even had to pay the entry fees. I am going to enter the US Open in July and try to prove that this was not a fluke and I really belong on the world stage.”


Ai Fukuhara had earlier made it a day to remember for Japan when the Olympic silver medallist won her first Super Series World Tour title in front of a capacity crowd at the Yokohama Cultural Gymnasium.


The world number 15, who has a wax sculpture of herself at Tokyo airport, beat two highly rated Chinese opponents on the way to the final before eventually overcoming Moon Hyun-jung of Korea 11-7, 11-5, 13-11, 11-8 to clinch an emotional title.


“This is the first time I’ve won the Japan Open, an event which is very special to me,” Fukuhara said. “I am very happy to win such a big event in front of so many people. The reason I won today was the spectators, especially the ones who have followed my whole career.”


Jin Ueda and Maharu Yoshimura completed the golden hat trick for Japan by shocking their higher ranked and more fancied doubles compatriots, Kenta Matsudaira and Koki Niwa, winning 7-11, 11-8, 11-6, 11-8.


“We are glad, but very shocked,” Ueda said. “This is the first time we’ve been paired and we weren’t confident at all going into the final, as we were playing such strong opponents. Our combination ended up working well as we covered each other’s mistakes. We had nothing to lose and no pressure, which helped us a lot.”

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