Jang Woo-jin, 28, showed the class of a Korean men’s table tennis ace by securing bronze at the Asian Games.
Jang came from behind to beat Japan’s Tomokazu Harimoto in the men’s singles quarterfinals of the table tennis event at the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games at the Archer Canal Sports Park Gymnasium in Hangzhou, China, on Tuesday, with a game score of 4-3.
Jang Woo-jin was outplayed from the start by Harimoto’s quick attack, dropping games 1-3 in quick succession. It looked like the Japanese ace was going to win the match.
However, in game four, Jang made a desperate comeback.
She blocked Harimoto’s diagonal attack and utilised her long forehand decisions.
After winning the fourth game 11-9 to gain a foothold in the race, Jang got his ‘lucky break’ in the fifth game, when eight deuces were called.
Leading 15-14, Harimoto began to feel discomfort in his legs. According to men’s national team coach Joo Se-hyuk, Harimoto’s right thigh was cramping up badly.
Harimoto continued to fight hard, but it was difficult to expect him to play normally.
In the end, Jang Woo-jin won three games in a row and finished the match in straight sets.
It was an invaluable victory that was made possible by a combination of skill and a never-say-die spirit.
“When I was down 0-3, my coach told me to focus on winning one game, so I focused on one game, one game, one game, rather than winning or losing or the result, and I think I got lucky,” he said, recalling how he started his comeback, “I played with a clear mind and half-gave up, and I gained a lot of confidence by using techniques that I shouldn’t have.”
Jang Woo-jin paid tribute to Harimoto.
“I thought he was going to give up in the sixth set, but I was very grateful that he played until the end. Harimoto is a top-class player, but I thought that his attitude (of respecting his opponent and the game) is also top-class,” he said.
Zhang narrowed the gap in his all-time head-to-head with Harimoto to three wins and four losses.
Next up for Zhang is China’s world number one Fan Zhenndong.
Zhang is undefeated in his six-match head-to-head record against Fan.
A victory over Pan would make him the first South Korean to reach the men’s singles final at an Asian Games in 33 years, since Kim Taek-soo, vice president of the Korean Table Tennis Association, won gold in Beijing in 1990.
“I have my own mantra that I recite before playing Chinese players. I just think about taking one game first, and that gives me a good flow and confidence,” he said, adding, “I will try to attack Pan Zhenndong with a relaxed mindset.” 토토사이트