Greece stuns Japan at the World Team Table Tennis Championships

Greece stuns Japan at the World Team Table Tennis Championships
Konstantnos Papageorgiou of Greece (right) returns a shot against Japan's Kenta Matsudaira (left) during a match of the 2014 World Team Table Tennis Championships in Tokyo.

The homecourt advantage was not much help to the Japanese men in their opening match at the World Team Table Tennis Championships.

Japan, ranked No. 3 in the world, were dealt a stunning 3-2 defeat by 16th-ranked Greece to start the group stage at Tokyo's Yoyogi Gym on Monday night.

After Jun Mizutani won the opening match, Seiya Kishikawa and Kenta Matsudaira fell in succession to give the Greeks a 2-1 lead. Matsudaira's loss was particularly painful, as he led 9-7 in the fifth and deciding game but gave up four straight points.

Mizutani scored his second victory to tie the score. In the decisive fifth match, Kishikawa was defeated in straight games by Kalinikos Kreanga.

Japan coach Yosuke Kurashima could not help but praise the opponent, saying, "Greece had the ability and determination to be the better team."

Kishikawa said the pressure of playing at home was not the only factor.

"Though we felt pressure, I don't think it led to this result," he said. "The major cause of the result was my losses."

However, the championships has just started and the team still has a chance of finishing first in its group and winning a medal for the fourth straight tournament.

"We've won a medal in the past after losing in the group stage," Kishikawa said. "We will forget about today, and just think about the next day."

Meanwhile, the women's team got off a good start, following up on their 3-0 win over Belarus on Monday night by defeating the United States 3-0 in early action Tuesday.

Sayaka Hirano and Kasumi Ishikawa, members of the Japan team that won a silver medal at the 2012 London Olympics, combined with newcomer Saki Tashiro to whitewash the Belarussians.

"My mind was a complete blank and at times I didn't enough know what type of serve I should do," said Tashiro, who lost the first game but settled down to sweep the next three.

In the tournament, the nations are divided into four groups of six teams. The top three teams advance to the knockout rounds.

 

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