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Budapest Grand Prix bronze medallist Denis Vieru (MDA) won his first Grand Slam final to record his country’s first win at a Grand Slam. Vieru was tipped to play second fiddle to former world bronze medallist Vazha Margvelashvili (GEO) but the former upstaged his Georgian rival and one-time Grand Slam winner with a majestic tai-otoshi earning ippon in the U66kg final.
In the first semi-final Vieru edged past world bronze medallist Georgii Zantaraia (UKR) by a waza-ari after 70 seconds of added time while in the second semi-final former world bronze medallist Vazha Margvelashvili (GEO) beat World Judo Masters silver medallist Baruch Shmailov (ISR) by ippon 25 seconds into golden score.
In the first bronze medal contest Shmailov bested youngster Manuel Lombardo (ITA) with a front uchi-mata for a beautiful ippon. The second bronze medal went to Zantaraia who narrowly defeated Ekaterinburg Grand Slam bronze medallist Abdula Abdulzhalilov (RUS) by a waza-ari score.
World champion Abe Hifumi (JPN) was sensationally stunned by Tel Aviv Grand Prix winner and Junior World Championships gold medallist Manuel Lombardo (ITA) in his opening contest. The 20-year-old Italian scored twice without reply to convincingly defeat the 2017 Paris Grand Slam champion and to send shockwaves across Italy and Japan.
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