A little over one match into the first men’s team semifinal, Japan were in trouble. Maharu Yoshimura had been shut out in the first singles line, and his compatriot Jun Mizutani was down 7-2 in his first game against Timo Boll, who looked for all the world to be in the zone.
Funny how things can change.
Japan mounted a furious comeback to win their semifinal over Germany 3-1 and advance to the gold medal match Wednesday evening.
It began with the aforementioned Mizutani. 7-2 down in game 1, the man from Japan roared back to win the game 11-9. He then went on a 7-0 run to take game 2, and won three straight points down 9-10 to win the third game and tie the match.
The comeback seemed to galvanize the Japanese. Tied at a game apiece in the doubles line, the pair of Koki Niwa and Yoshimura flipped a switch to dominate the next two games, winning them 11-4 and 11-5, to put all the pressure on Germany.
But who was on hand for the third singles line? Jun Mizutani, who was in the zone himself. He who had dragged Japan back from the most precarious position continued to play like a man possessed, dominating Bastian Steger 11-5, 11-4, 11-4 to send Japan to the gold medal match for the first time in their history.
They’ll know their opponent after tonight’s China-South Korea semifinal, which is set to start at 6:30 PM ET. You can stream it live on NBCOlympics.com.
China put on a display worthy of their name in a 3-0 dismantling of Singapore to reach Tuesday night’s gold medal match. The result was never in doubt as the Chinese led from the get go, dropping just one set in the match.
Li Xiaoxia got her team off to a hot start, sweeping her singles line over Feng Tianwei 3-0. While Feng was able to keep the individual points competitive, it felt at times that Li needed to simply flip a switch to put the result in her favor. The singles silver medalist took the line 12-10, 11-8, 11-9.
She was followed up by the woman who bested her in the gold medal match, Ding Ning. Ding was able to easily take the first game off Zhou Yihan at 11-7, but dropped the second set 11-9 to even the affair. That seemed to wake up the world No. 2, as she turned things up to eleven to take the next two games in routs, putting the Chinese a game away from advancing to the gold medal match.
They would punch their ticket in the doubles match. Ding was accompanied by Liu Shiwen, and the duo did not dilly dally. The Chinese team took care of business in quick order, winning 11-4, 11-1, 11-9 to take the penultimate step to gold.
China will now face Germany in the gold medal match Tuesday evening looking to defend their gold medal from London.
More table tennis is on the way from the Riocentro with the men’s semifinals set to begin at 2:00 PM ET and streaming live on NBCOlympics.com.