|Ai Fukuhara proves herself in Korea by beating Mima Ito|
Ai FUKHARA has proven herself as a force still to be reckoned with, by becoming the GAC Group 2015 World Tour (Super Series) Korea Open Champion, which concluded today in Incheon, Korea.
FUKUHARA beat 14 year old compatriot, Mima ITO, whom experts predict will take over her throne as the queen of Japanese table tennis.
A devastating performance by the 26 year old world number eight proved too much for ITO, as FUKUHARA prevailed easily 11-6, 11-7, 12-10, 11-4 to win her second ITTF World Tour in 2015, and her fourth overall.
An excited FUKUHARA stated: “I am very happy. Last week I lost very early at the Japan Open, and I was very upset. I am glad that I was able to come here and make up for it and become the champion.
“Playing against Ito is not like playing against a regular 14 year old. Her level is much higher than that. Today I wanted to show everyone that I was still one of the best in Japan, and I am ahead of all these young talented girls.”
The women’s final saw the experienced triumphed over youth, the opposite happened in the men’s final, as 23 year old JUNG Youngsik (KOR) defeated the 35 year old and more celebrated teammate, JOO Saehyuk in the men’s singles final.
The number four seeded JUNG won his second ITTF World Tour title, after his victory at the Australian Open, 11-9, 11-1, 9-11, 11-9, 11-8 over the third seeded JOO.
The world number 20, who can expect to be ranked a lot higher once the next world rankings are released, stated: “It is an unbelievable feeling to be the Champion here in my home country. My victory at the Australian Open earlier this year was my first ever ITTF World Tour title, and it gave me immense confidence, as I now believe that I am good enough to be winning these big events.”
“All my focus is now trying to qualify to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.”
It was more Korean action in the men’s doubles final, as team mates JUNG Youngsik & KIM Minseok battled for gold against colleagues CHO Seungmin & KIM Minhyeok (KOR).
JUNG added another gold to his singles victory as him and his partner KIM, were too good for their opponents and won the tough, closer encounter 9-11, 11-9, 11-8, 7-11, 11-6 to win gold in front of their family and friends.
The women’s doubles final was more like a cadet event, with the average age of the four players 14.75 years!
The younger of the pairs, the 14 year old duo of Mima ITO & Miu HIRANO defeated Hina HAYATA & Hitomi SATO (JPN) 8-11, 8-11, 11-5, 11-6, 11-9 to win their third ITTF World Tour title.
Their first title came back in Germany last year, when they were just 13 years old, with a combined age of 27 years and 145 days. This made them the youngest ever ITTF World Tour winners, earning them a Guiness World Record!
Yui HAMAMOTO (JPN) continued Japan’s dominance of the under 21 events in 2015 by clinching the women’s U21 title, which is the second of her fledging career. In the semi final, the 17 year old broke Hitomi SATO’s (JPN) streak of four consecutive under 21 titles, which was a record.
HAMAMOTO was too good for compatriot Miyu MAEDA in the final, winning 9-11, 11-7, 11-5, 5-11, 12-10.
photos Janos Schmidt