|16-year-old YU Ziyang of China has broken the record for youngest ever winner of a World Tour Title at 16 years and 30 days old, 254 days younger than previous record holder Japan’s SAMBE Kohei was when he won the 2014 Chile Open at 16 years and 284 days. This is the third time the record has been broken in the last 12 months, when China’s FAN Zhendong won at 16 years 292 days at the 2013 German Open.
YU defeated world number eight and 2012 title holder, Japan’s MIZUTANI Jun, 4-2 (8-11, 11-4, 11-8, 6-11, 11-4, 11-8) in the Men’s Singles Final at the 2014 Japan Open, last of six Super Series events of the GAC Group 2014 ITTF World Tour.
Playing in just his second World Tour, YU commented: “I had more confidence in myself after entering the quarterfinals in the Korea Open last week, and it helped me in this tournament.”
“Before coming to the Japan Open, my goal set was to enter the Quarterfinals and Semifinals. 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.”
Asked about being the youngest player to win a Men’s Singles Title in the World Tour’s 19-year-history, YU smiled: “I am happy, but to me, age is not really an important factor. The main point for me is to win!”
Upsets were abound in the Men’s Singles, as top seed CHUANG Chih-yuan (TPE) and defending champion SHIONO Masato (JPN) were knocked out in the first round of the Main Draw. This also marks the second year in a row that a qualifier has won the Japan Open.
Home ground advantage saw a strong performance by the Japanese team, with Japanese contenders in five out of six finals at the Japan Open, who eventually won three gold medals.
In the women’s singles, top seed FENG Tianwei of Singapore proved too strong for second seed Japan’s ISHIKAWA Kasumi, and the crowd was audibly disappointed as the Singaporean defeated ISHIKAWA 4-2 (12-10, 9-11, 3-11, 11-3, 11-5, 13-11).
World number five, FENG, who has two World Tour singles titles to her name this year having previously claimed the Philippines and Australian Open, said: “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.”
“I think both of us gave our best efforts to perform well in the finals match, and we both did well. I am in good shape today, and am very happy with my win.”
KISHIKAWA Seiya and MIZUTANI Jun of Japan cruised to 3-0 (13-11,11-9,13-11) win over top seed CHIANG Hung-Chieh and HUANG Sheng-Sheng (TPE), taking a gold for Japan in the Men’s Doubles.
FUKUHARA Ai and WAKAMIYA Misako earned another gold for Japan in the Women’s Doubles, defeating FENG Tianwei and YU Mengyu of Singapore 3-2 (11-8, 11-6, 7-11, 13-11). The Japanese duo last played together at the 2013 German Open, where they lost in the finals, due to an injury keeping FUKUHARA out of the international scene.
On their comeback in Japan, national icon FUKUHARA commented: “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.”
“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 strong contenders at the 2014 Asian Games and 2015 World Team Table Tennis Championships.”
In the Under-21 Men’s Singles, Brazil’s CALDERANO Hugo lived up to expectations as top seed, defeating JANG Woojin of Korea Republic 4-2 (11-8, 12-10, 7-11, 15-13, 8-11, 11-8) just a day before his 18th birthday.
For the Under-21 Women’s Singles, 8th seed 18-year-old MORI Sakura (JPN), a member of the Japanese squad who won silver at the recent ZEN-NOH 2014 World Team Championships in Tokyo, delighted the home crowd with a 4-1 (11-6,11-1,12-10,5-11,11-6) upset over 2nd seed CHEN Szu-Yu (TPE).