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Japanese middleweight Sasaki Takeshi defeated European Championships bronze medallist Aslan Lappinagov (RUS) to record the highest profile win of his career. The world number 13 defeated the world number seven as the Russian had to settle for silver for the second year in a row at the Masters.
Osaka Grand Slam gold medallist Sasaki has former world champion Nagase Takanori (JPN) and world silver medallist Fujiwara Sotaro (JPN) as his main rivals in Japan but has made his sporadic appearances count on the IJF circuit count in 2018. The Japanese judoka established himself with a win at the Hohhot Grand Prix in May and won for a second time in China this season with a narrow victory over Lappinagov. Sasaki caught his opponent with a ura-nage for a waza-ari score and will now jump up into the world’s 10 on the IJF ranking list for the first time.
In the first semi-final Sasaki defeated Budapest Grand Prix winner Alan Khubetsov (RUS) by a score of two waza-ari to one. In the second semi-final The Hague Grand Prix silver medallist Frank De Wit (NED) lost out to Lappinagov by a waza-ari score which was the only time the scoreboard was breached in a highly-competitive contest.
The first bronze medal was clinched by De Wit who threw Abu Dhabi Grand Slam silver medallist Matthias Casse (BEL) for ippon with a ko-soto-gake in golden score. World number two De Wit, who matched his result from 2017, helped his opponent back up to his feet after registering the Netherlands in the medal table on day two in China.
The second bronze medal was won by world bronze medallist Vedat Albayrak (TUR) after Khubetsov was disqualified in golden score. Khubetsov was penalised for dropping for his third penalty to send Albayrak onto the medal podium for his country’s first medal at the World Judo Masters 2018.
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