Jun Mizutani wins 2014 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals

With no Chinese table tennis player competing in the year-end GAC Group ITTF Grand Tour World Finals – not due to ability, but simply because none had played enough events to qualify – the pressure was squarely on the world’s highest-ranked non-Chinese player, No. 5 Jun Mizutani of Japan, to capture the title and the US$100,000 prize.

To do that, the 25-year-old left-handed player had to defeat his longtime friend and rival, Dimitrij Ovtcharov, 26, of Germany, for the championship in Bangkok. For Ovtcharov, reaching the final was already a personal victory of sorts, as the world No. 6 and three-time Olympic medalist had not won a match in six previous Finals occasions.

The title match ended up being a thrilling encounter, going the full seven games with Mizutani prevailing, 14-12, 12-10, 8-11, 11-3, 6-11, 12-14, 11-6.  Although Ovtcharov converted his fourth game point in the sixth to even the match, Mizutani proved to be too good in the seventh and final game.

“I’m very glad to win this tournament.  It was my second to have won the final,” Mizutani said during the post-match press conference.  The left-handed player’s other ITTF Grand Tour World Finals title came in 2010 in Seoul.

“And also, this tournament, I can get very big money,” Mizutani added with a cheeky grin and to much laughter from Ovtcharov.  “Very nice!”

Indeed, the Grand Tour World Finals is the most lucrative event on the ITTF circuit.  But judging by his post-match reaction, when he fell on his back in celebration, the thrill of victory was clearly enough.

Photos: 2014 ITTF Grand Tour World Finals men’s singles championship – Bangkok, Thailand – Dec. 14, 2014
all photos by Yuan-Kwan Chan / Meniscus Magazine

Video: Dimitrij Ovtcharov & Jun Mizutani press conference – 2014 ITTF Grand Tour World Finals
video by Yuan-Kwan Chan / Meniscus Magazine