Local favorites Tomokazu Harimoto and Koki Niwa, as well as six-time Olympian Timo Boll of Germany, failed to reach the quarterfinals of the Tokyo Olympic Games table tennis men’s singles event with defeats here on Tuesday.
The third seeded Harimoto, just 18 years old, was denied the chance to advance further after just two matches at his first Olympics, losing 10-12, 11-9, 11-3, 10-12, 8-11, 11-7, 11-7 to Slovenia’s Darko Jorgic, 22, who played one more game as a lower-rated participant, reports Xinhua.
“I know he’s a great player and has very strong backhand, and I’ve even received specific training to deal with his backhand. But for today’s match, I just can’t play against him,” said Harimoto, whose parents are both natives of southwest China’s Sichuan province.
The teenage sensation, runner-up at the 2018 Youth Olympics, has been deemed the biggest talent to come out of Japan in the past four years. His best result so far is the champion of the 2018 ITTF Finals in Incheon, South Korea.
“However, the Olympic Games is not over yet, and I’ll try to think about how to help Japan win in the team event,” he added.
“It’s an amazing game and the best result so far for me to reach the quarterfinals at a grand tournament like the Olympics,” commented Jorgic, who’s never gone beyond the second round at all three world championships he’d qualified for the singles draw.
Earlier on Tuesday, German great Timo Boll, who is playing his sixth Olympic Games, also fell at the round of 16, beaten by South Korea’s Jeoung Yeoung-sik 11-8, 7-11, 11-7, 11-9, 11-4.
It has been four times in a row for the reigning European champion to be ousted in the Olympic fourth round after playing just two matches as a high-position seed.
“I had a good start, but then he found his rhythm. He started to become a wall, I would say, and even from difficult positions he had good answers,” said the 40-year-old, seeded eighth this time.
Jeoung was a 4-3 survivor against the chopping Greek Panagiotis Gionis in the morning and his toughness was praised by his opponent.
“Congratulations to him after such a tough game in the morning. To play that that well – respect,” said Boll.
Jeoung will face No. 1 seed Fan Zhendong in the quarters after the latter beat Emmanuel Lebesson of France 4-0 at noon and Marcos Freitas 4-1 in the evening.
Jorgic, also in Fan’s upper half, will play against Lin Yun-Ju while vying for semifinal berth.
In the other half, Brazil’s Hugo Calderano overcame South Korean Jiang Woojin 4-3 to setup a quarterfinal encounter with Germany’s seventh seed Dimitrij Ovctcharov, a 4-1 winner over Niwa.
Defending champion Ma Long faces Egyptian Omar Assar, who upset Chinese Taipei veteran Chuang Chih-Yuan 4-3.
In the women’s section, both Chinese Chen Meng and Sun Yingsha, seeded 1-2 in the singles, made easy through to the quarters, and so did hosts Japan’s Kasumi Ishikawa and Mima Ito, while other quarterfinalists came from Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Germany.