Liam Pitchford’s brilliant win over Japan’s teenage sensation Tomokazu Harimoto was the English highlight of the first day of the ITTF Team World Cup in London.
Pitchford, world ranked 85, blitzed the 14-year-old world No 11 3-0 – saving four game points in the first game and then accelerating to a 13-11, 11-8, 11-5 victory.
Pitchford’s win made it 1-1 after Koki Niwa and Jin Ueda were pushed by Paul Drinkhall and Sam Walker in the opening doubles before the Japanese pair won 3-2 (11-5, 9-11, 11-6, 9-11, 11-7).
Ueda, ranked 27, then defeated No 31 Drinkhall 3-1 (11-8, 9-11, 12-10, 11-6) to put Japan 2-1 up, and world No 6 Niwa completed a 3-1 win for the second seeds by overcoming Pitchford 3-0 (16-14, 11-8, 11-7).
It put Japan, who earlier overcame Egypt 3-0, into the quarter-finals. England and Egypt meet tomorrow to decide who will join them.
Pic cap: Liam Pitchford celebrates a winner. Pic by Alan Man.