Last updated 5 years ago
A young 13-year-old kid named Tomokazu Harimoto took many by surprise in the World Championship in 2017. His wins over Yuto Kizukuri and Jun Mizutani impressed me. Especially the Mizutani match where Harimoto looked like he was well prepared for the match. And he looked capable despite the loss of beating XU Xin in the QF.
I noticed something about the way he plays this year, it is geared more for speed and placement rather than spin. Allowing his opponents to open up first more, and then placing the ball wide for a winner or very difficult angle to return. Being more aggressive with hitting the ball sooner. Is this the beginning of table tennis going in a different direction in terms of playing style? What do you think of this particular style compared to others?
This is an interesting observation and one that we will have to keep an eye out for.
The new plastic balls are tending to bounce a little higher which lends itself to the style that Harimoto is playing. I think we will still have the topspin play in general but this faster flatter ball may make more of a presence in the future.
The Chinese are still working on topspin strokes. Let's see if they change their thinking with the success of Harimoto.
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Gordon Hume Posted 5 years ago
Thanks for bringing up the possibility of Table Tennis moving into a newer style of play (which I suppose it always has tended to do from time to time). I only watched Harimoto's match against Xu Xin but was dead impressed with his skill and his show of great passion with each point played.
Alois: I wonder what your thoughts are on the apparent move in men's TT to playing closer to the table and with more rapid fire half-volley shots, so much more like the style of Ding Ning or Liu Shiwen, for example, in the women's game? I was very struck by some of Timo Boll's matches where he was staying very close to the table much of the time.
Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 5 years ago
They are staying close and but also able to use a big swing to generate a lot of power. These athletes are just getting better and better.
Marcin Lonak Posted 5 years ago
Sorry Waldi, but i have to give the title of "Mozart of Table Tennis" to Harimoto.
It does not suit you.
I don't see Mozart as a Genius. If you look closer, there is a History similarity between Mozart and Harimoto. Both started insanely young. Both had their entire life
their Father carriyng for them. Practically Thinkink for them. Doing all the real world stuff for them. Both Fathers were World Class in what they did. They just seen the possibility to do that even better through their sons.
For me it is more a realisation of those Fathers, that they already peaked their career and commit since then to their 2.0 Version.
I Believe, Harimoto plays today still with his Fathers Mind, Or even The Father of Harimoto plays still professionally with a Body full of possibilities and youthful ease. As back in Mozart time- Leopolds Mastery together with childish ease of Wolfgang make up the "genius Mozart".
In both cases i suspect a Full commitment of the Fathers to their sons.
Just an opinion.
Thats why i think to myself: Waldi, Grubba, Wladi etc.
or Chopin, Bach, Brahms in Music had more of a "Genius" in them than Mozart or Harimoto ever had.
Marcin Lonak Posted 5 years ago
I don't know. In my opinion, The only, maybe not new, but mastered quite well by Harimoto, to become a topspin killer, is his aggressive Block. Its played always with placement in mind. Also it keeps him close to the table, and keeps the tempo high. Because most players need too much time to recover from their own topspin movements, they struggle with that block. He can play this block in almost every situation similar as for example Samsonov doing with the normal Block.He is also able to keep a good amount of topspin back to the opponent with those blocks, and can decide if to do it.
I think The other strokes are not significantly better then the ones of other players.
The normal Block, as thought by most people, is considered to be a defensive shot (although i believe in the neutrality of a normal block, especially seeing Samsonov playing). The Agressive Block is definitely an Attacking stroke. Most players struggle from a well placed aggressive block.
Also Harimotos reading of Spin and Serve is extremely good.
Mike Deubig Posted 5 years ago
Thanks for the response! Keep your eye on another impressive upcoming player named, Miu Hirano from Japan. I'm not sure who used the new style first, but she also has a similar style like Harimotos. She is 17 years old and was invited to China's Super League. Both players have a lot of room to grow, they have a promising future ahead. it will be interesting to see if this style becomes popular with other players as a style to hinder China's dominance in table tennis.
I agree, Harimotos reading of spin and serve is exceptional especially for his age! One would need such reads in order to be aggressive with blocks, and hitting the ball early.