Japan defeated Romania 3-0 to reach the women's semifinals at the world team table tennis championships Thursday, while its men's team lost 3-0 to China in the quarterfinals.

The Japanese women are guaranteed at least bronze in Busan, South Korea, as there is no third-place contest. They have earned a place on the medal podium for the fifth time in a row.

Against Romania, world No. 14 Mima Ito gave Japan momentum by winning a close first match against 12th-ranked Bernadette Szocs 9-11, 11-5, 11-7, 6-11, 11-9.

Japan's Mima Ito (facing camera) plays against Romania's Bernadette Szocs in the first match of the women's quarterfinals at the world team table tennis championships in Busan, South Korea, on Feb. 22, 2024. (Kyodo)

Ito's teammates Hina Hayata and Miu Hirano followed with wins in the next two matches.

Japan's head coach Takehiro Watanabe, reacting to Ito's win, said, "She's been in good form. Things got tense during the match, but I knew she would come out the winner."

Japan will next face Hong Kong on Friday after China and France meet in the other semifinal.

Japan's Sora Matsushima (L) plays against China's Fan Zhendong in the first match of the men's quarterfinals at the world team table tennis championships in Busan, South Korea, on Feb. 22, 2024. (Kyodo)

On the men's side, Japan's Sora Matsushima, Tomokazu Harimoto and Hiroto Shinozuka all lost by three games to one against China's Fan Zhendong, Wang Chuqin and Ma Long, respectively.

China is looking for its 11th consecutive men's world team title.


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