ITTF World Cup Upsets and Triumphs: Harimoto and Kallberg Shine

In the first major upset of the day, 15-year-old Japanese sensation Miwa Harimoto made a stunning main draw debut at the Women’s World Cup, defeating third seed Wang Yidi in a thrilling 4-1 victory (12-10, 6-11, 11-8, 11-6, 16-14). Despite Wang’s valiant efforts to level the match, Harimoto maintained her momentum and kept her composure under immense pressure, securing a resounding victory.

Harimoto attributed her success to an evenly matched performance compared to her usual encounters. “Previously, I had about a 30% advantage while my opponent had a 70% advantage in terms of rally performance and points gained. However, today, I was able to engage in rallies with minimal errors. I also executed the tactics I’ve been working on, from my service and receive to third-ball and fifth-ball attacks. I’ll put my best foot forward and fight one match at a time, striving to play my best while strategizing for each encounter.”

In the Men’s World Cup, Sweden’s Anton Kallberg delivered a captivating performance, thwarting 3rd seed Liang Jingkun‘s comeback attempt in a mesmerizing showdown. With a thrilling 3-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-6, 8-11, 9-11, 11-6 victory, Kallberg left the fans in Macao utterly stunned by the sheer intensity and skill displayed. The Swede moves to the quarterfinals as the only European player left in the World Cup, where he will face Tomokazu Harimoto.

Kallberg shared his insights on the match, “I think there’s a reason for me to win over Liang Jingkun twice. Maybe I can make him feel a bit uncomfortable and try to play really fast, putting him under a lot of pressure. He’s very good at catching a lot of balls with a lot of spin, but I’m trying to capitalize on him playing a bit safe. I’m looking forward to playing in front of many fans again tomorrow.”

Elsewhere, reigning Men’s World Cup champion Fan Zhendong faced off against World Youth Champion Lin Shidong in a nail-biting encounter. Despite a rocky start, Fan displayed incredible resilience, staging a remarkable comeback from a 3-1 deficit. The tension reached its peak in the decisive match, with Fan clinching victory in a tense 15-13 showdown, securing his spot in the next round and avenging his Singapore Smash 2024 loss.

In the Women’s event, 2016 World Cup winner Miu Hirano narrowly escaped an upset, edging past Jeon Jihee in a hard-fought 4-3 battle (3-11, 10-12, 12-10, 11-8, 11-8, 4-11, 11-6). Despite Jeon’s initial dominance, Hirano refused to yield, mounting a fierce comeback to take the win. Now, Hirano gears up to face fellow World Cup champion Chen Meng in a highly anticipated quarterfinal clash.

Hirano reflected on her performance, “Managing to win the third game despite how challenging it was has been significant to my victory. It’s different today than yesterday, and I have a feeling of returning to the usual conditions. I’ll work hard with a challenger’s mindset, striving to maintain a winning streak.”

With top seeds knocked out, the ITTF Men’s and Women’s World Cup promises more unpredictability and excitement as the final few days unfold at the Galaxy Arena.

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