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Monday, May 12, 2008
Asashoryu upset on opening day
Yokozuna Asashoryu ran into a brick wall in the form of Kisenosato suffering a first-day defeat while rival yokozuna Hakuho got off in the winner's circle at the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament on Sunday.
In the day's final bout, the usually fiery Asashoryu never got his attack rolling against komusubi Kisenosato, who pressed forward in a relentless onslaught before sending his opponent crashing onto his back at Ryogoku Kokugikan.
Asashoryu appears the favorite to win consecutive titles based on the hard work he put into pre-tournament training, but it is now anyone's guess how the upset will affect him in the days to come.
The 27-year-old will be flirting with history with a chance to take sole possession of fourth-place on the all-time list with a 23rd Emperor's Cup victory.
Hakuho made mincemeat of compatriot Asasekiryu, calmly deflecting the komusubi's blows before swatting him to the dohyo surface.
Hakuho, who has been bothered by lower-back pain lately, is in a bid to win his first title in two meets and seventh overall.
Asashoryu got revenge against Hakuho with a title victory in a head-to-head clash on the last day of the spring meet in March after his rival spoiled his comeback from a two-tournament suspension with a victory on the final day of the New Year meet in January.
Back in the ring, it was a day of perfection for sumo's four ozeki.
Bulgarian Kotooshu, who is facing demotion and must post a majority of wins at the 15-day meet to keep his ozeki status, got inside to quickly heave out Russian Wakanoho in a matter of seconds.
Chiyotaikai unleashed his trademark thrusting attack against Mongolian Kyokutenho, sending his opponent backpedaling over the edge.
Kaio got his preferred left-handed grip on Estonian giant Baruto before lifting the No. 1 maegashira out in textbook fashion.
Kotomitsuki got a firm under-hand grip on Kokkai's mawashi before tossing the top-ranked maegashira to the dirt surface for a convincing first-day win.
Kotoshogiku wrangled out Kakuryu while fellow sekiwake Ama wrapped up Miyabiyama from behind and shoved his opponent over the straw bales.