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Table Tennis: Japan’s Mizutani, Ishikawa win US$1m Grand Finals

Japan’s Jun Mizutani (right) beat Germany’s Dimitrij Ovtcharov 4-3 in an epic men’s singles final at the World Tour Grand Finals in Bangkok. Photos: ITTF.

Japan’s Jun Mizutani (right) beat Germany’s Dimitrij Ovtcharov 4-3 in an epic men’s singles final at the World Tour Grand Finals in Bangkok. Photos: ITTF.

December 14, 2014: Japan clinched both singles titles at the US$1,000,000 GAC Group World Tour Grand Finals on Sunday in front of a capacity crowd in Bangkok.

 

World No. 5 Jun Mizutani claimed his second ITTF Grand Finals crown to match his teammate Kasumi Ishikawa’s golden performance earlier in the day.

 

In the absence of top Chinese stars, seven out of the eight male and female semi-finalists hailed from different countries, while all of the men’s singles matches from the quarter-finals onwards featured a player from Asia and Europe.

 

The final continued that pattern as Mizutani, 25, took on World No. 7 Dimitrij Ovtcharov, bronze medallist at the 2012 London Olympics. The German battled back from 2-0 and 3-1 down, but Mizutani eventually prevailed 4-3 (14-12, 12-10, 8-11, 11-3, 6-11, 12-14, 11-6) in one of the most exciting matches of the year.

 

“The first two games were very close and I was totally focused. Losing the sixth game after taking the time-out was a blow and it was very difficult to recover mentally,” said Mizutani, who became a father earlier in the year.

 

“It’s always close between Dimitrij and myself. I won the title four years ago in Seoul, but I think beating him has been a greater achievement. Also, it’s much more money!”

 

Kasumi Ishikawa routed Seo Hyo-won 4-0 in the women’s final earlier in the day.

Kasumi Ishikawa routed Seo Hyo-won 4-0 in the women’s final earlier in the day.

Ishikawa, 21, won the biggest title of her life when the World No. 6 defeated Seo Hyo-won of Korea 4-0 (11-7, 11-7, 11-3, 11-9) in a one-sided women’s final.

 

Ishikawa lost the first game of her first match in the tournament against teammate Yuka Ishigaki, but managed to win the next 16 games in a row, which clinched her the title and a US$100,000 winner’s cheque.

 

Ishikawa beat Ishigaki 4-1, compatriot Ai Fukuhara 4-0 in the quarter-finals, Georgina Pota of Hungary 4-0 in the semis before her scintillating 4-0 final win against Seo, the World No. 12.

 

Ishikawa won 16 games in a row after losing her first game of the tournament.

Ishikawa won 16 games in a row after losing her first game.

“I am so happy to win this big and prestigious title. I can’t believe I won,” said Ishikawa. “I came into the event with no expectations, which took the pressure off me. I am going to spend my big cheque on a nice long holiday to a tropical beach somewhere.”

 

Japan won four golds overall, with 14-year-olds Mima Ito and Miu Hirano claiming gold in the women’s doubles and Asuka Machi winning the men’s under 21 event.

 

Korean duo Cho Eon-rae and Seo Hyun-deok were victorious in the men’s doubles, while Chen Szu-yu from Chinese Taipei won the women’s under 21 title.

 

The World Tour Grand Finals concluded the table tennis season. The 2015 season kicks off with the World Team Cup in Dubai from January 8-11.

 

Source: ITTF (www.ittf.com); Editing by SportAsia

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