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Table Tennis: Yu Ziyang, 16, makes World Tour history at Japan Open

Aged 16 years and 30 days, China’s Yu Ziyang shocked World No. 8 Jun Mizutani to win the Japan Open and become the youngest winner of a World Tour men’s singles title. Photos: ITTF via Action Images.

Aged 16 years and 30 days, China’s Yu Ziyang shocked World No. 8 Jun Mizutani to win the Japan Open and become the youngest winner of a World Tour men’s singles title. Photos: ITTF via Action Images.

June 23, 2014: Chinese 16-year-old Yu Ziyang became the youngest ever winner of an ITTF World Tour men’s singles title when he beat World No. 8 Jun Mizutani of Japan 4-2 (8-11, 11-4, 11-8, 6-11, 11-4, 11-8) to win the Japan Open on Sunday. Mizutani, 25, won his home Open in 2012.

 

Yu – the second successive qualifier to win the Japan Open – was 16 years and 30 days old when he clinched the title, making him 254 days younger than previous record holder Kohei Sambe when the Japanese won this year’s Chile Open.

 

Yu’s victory marked the third time the record has been broken in the last 12 months, with China’s Fan Zhendong winning last year’s German Open at 16 years and 292 days.

 

“I had more confidence in myself after entering the quarter-finals in the Korea Open last week and it helped me in this tournament,” said Yu, who was playing in just his second World Tour event. “Before coming to the Japan Open, my goal set was to enter the quarter-finals and semi-finals. Of course I thought of winning the title, but I was really playing match by match, trying to do my best for each, and not thinking too much.”

 

When asked about being the youngest player to win a men’s singles title in the World Tour’s 19-year-history, Yu replied: “I am happy, but to me age is not really an important factor. The main point for me is to win.”

 

Upsets abounded in the men’s singles, as top seed Chuang Chih-yuan of Chinese Taipei and defending champion Masato Shiono of Japan were knocked out in the first round of the last of six Super Series events of this year’s GAC Group ITTF World Tour.

 

In the women’s singles, top seed Feng Tianwei of Singapore proved too strong for second seed Kasumi Ishikawa and the crowd was audibly disappointed as the Singaporean won 4-2 (12-10, 9-11, 3-11, 11-3, 11-5, 13-11).

 

“It was a tough and exciting match against Ishikawa. We have met several times before in international tournaments and we both had wins and losses,” said Feng, the World No. 5 who has won the Philippine and Australian Opens this year. “I think both of us gave our best efforts to perform well in the final and we both did well. I am in good shape and am very happy with my win.”

 

Local players benefited from home advantage, with Japanese players contending in five out of the six finals and winning three golds.

 

Mizutani and compatriot Seiya Kishikawa cruised to a 3-0 (13-11, 11-9, 13-11) win over top seeds Chiang Hung-chieh and Huang Sheng-sheng of Chinese Taipei in the men’s doubles.

 

Ai Fukuhara (right) marked her World Tour return by winning the women’s doubles with Misako Wakamiya (left), as the Japanese duo beat Singaporeans Feng Tianwei and Yu Mengyu.

Ai Fukuhara (right) marked her World Tour return by winning the women’s doubles with Misako Wakamiya (left), as the Japanese duo beat Singaporeans Feng Tianwei and Yu Mengyu.

Japan also won gold in the women’s doubles as Ai Fukuhara and Misako Wakamiya beat Feng and fellow Singaporean Yu Mengyu 3-1 (11-8, 11-6, 7-11, 13-11). The Japanese duo last played together at last year’s German Open – where they lost in the finals – before Fukuhara was sidelined by injury.

 

“We are very glad and happy to win in Japan, our home country. It was relaxing to play in front of a very supportive and large home crowd,” said Fukuhara, who was delighted to make her return to the World Tour in Japan.

 

“The key to our success was strong cooperation and our playing styles fit each other. We hope to be able to train more together and become a stronger pair to be contenders at this year’s Asian Games and next year’s World Team Championships.”

 

In the Under-21 men’s singles, Brazil’s Hugo Calderano lived up to his billing as top seed by defeating Korean Jang Woo-jin 4-2 (11-8, 12-10, 7-11, 15-13, 8-11, 11-8) just a day before his 18th birthday.

 

Japan’s Sakura Mori, 18, delighted the home crowd when the eighth seed upset top seed Chen Szu-yu of Chinese Taipei in the final, prevailing 4-1 (11-6,11-1,12-10,5-11,11-6) to claim the Under-21 women’s singles crown. Mori was a member of the Japanese squad who won silver at this year’s World Team Championships in Tokyo.

 

Source: ITTF (www.ittf.com); Editing by SportAsia

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