Crowned World Junior champion some ten weeks ago in Cape Town, South Africa when he captured the imagination of all present; Japan’s Tomokazu Harimoto once again, this time in the city of New Delhi at the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour India Open, stunned the crowd.
Not only did he amaze those present, who marvelled at the talents of the 13 year old; on the evening of Saturday 18th February, he ended the last remaining title hope of the host nation.
Full of energy, he beat India’s leading player Sharath Kamal Achanta, in six games (11-7, 5-11, 11-7, 11-13, 11-9, 11-9) to reserve his place in an ITTF World Tour Men’s Singles final for the very first time in his career.
An upset, it was an upset in more ways than one; was there anything in favour of Tomokazu Harimoto?
Sharath Kamal Achanta, a true sportsman in the very best sense of the word, always courteous, always polite maintaining high integrity at all times, was the no.11 seed, Tomokazu Harimoto, was the no.14 seed.
Rating favoured India’s star man, furthermore, at 34 years of age, Sharath Kamal Achanta had vastly more experience and he was playing on home soil.
Surely the odds were stacked in favour of the Indian star but Tomokazu Harimoto had one massive advantage; he had nothing to lose, he could play without inhibition, if there is such a thing as pressure in sport, there was none on his shoulders.
Success for Tomokazu Harimoto but for his colleague, Koki Niwa, the no.3 seed, it was defeat. Earlier in the evening he had been beaten by Dimitrij Ovtcharov, the top seed, the German winning a hard fought seven games encounter (8-11, 11-2, 9-11, 12-10, 14-16, 11-2, 11-8).
Victory as status predicted and also as past result advised; the pair had met on four previous occasions in World ranking events, Dimitrij Ovtcharov had won all four but all four had been testing encounters.
In 2009, he emerged successful at the H.I.S. World Championships in Yokohama when to some extent Koki Niwa was very much in the shoes currently being trod by Tomokazu Harimoto, he was 14 years old at the time.
Later in the same year Dimitrij Ovtcharov won on the ITTF World Tour in Korea and then in 2011 in Qatar prior to succeeding at the Liebherr 2015 Men’s World Cup in Halmstad, Sweden.
Once again, this time in New Delhi, Dimitrij Ovtcharov won again; five in a row.