2020 ITTF World Tour Hungarian Open
Tuesday 18th - Sunday 23rd February
Tomokazu Harimoto and Mima Ito add to annual title haul
Japan’s Tomokazu Harimoto and Mima Ito, justified their top seeded positions and belied their teenage years when, on Sunday 23rd February, they won the respective men’s singles and women’s singles titles at the 2020 ITTF World Tour Hungarian Open in Budapest.
Only 16 years old, it was for Tomokazu Harimoto his fourth such title; thus he maintained his record of one a year, his first such title was in 2017 in the Czech Republic, he followed in 2018 by winning in Japan before last year succeeding in Bulgaria.
Meanwhile, for 19 years of age Mima Ito, she continued her record of more than one a year. In 2015 she won in Germany and Belarus, then in 2016 in Austria, in 2017 in the Czech Republic, before the following year succeeding in Japan and Sweden. Some three months ago she emerged the winner in Austria.
In Budapest for Tomokazu Harimoto it was a case of setting the record straight. Earlier in the year in January he had been beaten by Yukiya Uda in the men’s singles final at the All Japanese Championships, some ten months ago at the Liebherr 2019 World Championships in Budapest, he had experienced a shock first round defeat at the hands of Korea Republic’s An Jaehyun.
A man with a mission, safely through to the quarter-finals without the loss of a single game, he ended German hopes by overcoming Benedikt Duda (12-10, 9-11, 11-6, 12-10, 9-11, 11-4) followed by success against Dimitrij Ovtcharov (11-9, 11-8, 11-4, 11-8). A place in the final booked, revenge was sweet, he accounted for Yukiya Uda in five games (7-11, 11-8, 11-2, 11-6, 11-9).
Runners up spot for Yukiya Uda, the same finish as he had experienced in the boys’ singles event at the 2018 World Junior Championships but a major step forward in his career; only once previously had he progressed beyond the opening round of an ITTF World Tour men’s singles event, last year he reached the second round in the Czech Republic.
Notably in Budapest, in the later rounds he beat Austria’s Robert Gardos (11-6, 7-11, 16-18, 11-7, 11-6, 11-7) and England’s Liam Pitchford (11-13, 11-8, 11-5, 5-11, 11-6, 11-9).
Success for Tomokazu Harimoto without the need for a seventh game, it was very different for Mima Ito. Facing Chinese Taipei’s Cheng I-Ching, the no.3 seed, in the final, she was down 2-3 in games and trailed 2-7 before recovering to win (11-7, 1-11, 11-6, 7-11, 2-11, 11-9, 11-7).
Earlier, Mima Ito had been required overcome defensive play; at the quarter-final stage she beat colleague Hitomi Sato, the no.6 seed (9-11, 7-11, 11-6, 11-8, 11-1, 11-2), prior to accounting for Germany’s Han Ying, the no.14 seed (11-7, 11-9, 10-12, 11-7, 11-4).
Alas for Cheng I-Ching, despite being currently listed at no.10 on the women’s world rankings, she has never won an ITTF World Tour women’s singles title in over 12 years of trying. In Budapest in the later rounds she overcame Hong Kong’s Doo Hoi Kem, the no.5 seed (11-8, 12-10, 13-11, 11-4) and Japan’s Kasumi Ishikawa, the no.2 seed (9-11, 11-4, 11-9, 10-12, 11-7, 10-12, 11-7) to reserve her place in the final. Notably, Kasumi Ishikawa was a player in form, the previous week she had won the women’s singles title at the ITTF Challenge Plus Portugal Open.
Disappointment for Kasumi Ishikawa, partnering Miu Hirano life was different, runners up three weeks earlier in Germany, the duo secured the women’s doubles title accounting for Hong Kong’s Doo Hoi Kem and Lee Ho Ching (11-6, 11-9, 12-10) in the final.
Thus they won their first ever ITTF World Tour women’s doubles title as pair, a feat that just fell one step short for Sharath Kamal Achanta and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran as they strove for a first for India. Required to qualify, they were beaten in the final by Benedikt Duda and Patrick Franziska, the no.2 seeds (11-5, 11-9, 8-11, 11-9).
Just one step short for Sharath Kamal Achanta and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran; for Wong Chun Ting and Doo Hoi Kem, it was the top step for the third time. The top seeds, the duo overcame Germany’s Franziska and Petrissa Solja, the no.7 seeds (11-6, 6-11, 11-9, 7-11, 11-9) to secure the mixed doubles title.
Play concluded in Budapest the next stop on the ITTF World Tour is Doha, the 2020 ITTF World Tour Platinum Qatar Open commences with qualification on Tuesday 3rd March.