In a breaking story to the English-speaking world, Jun Mizutani has said in a post match interview after he won his sixth All Japan Championship: “If my condition can be this good. I can beat the Chinese,” referring to the upcoming World Team Championships beginning in Tokyo on April 28.
He said the power and stability of his backhand improved as never before. “Until now, my backhand was used for connection only, but now I can be more aggressive with it.”
He had been polishing his skills in the Russian and European Champions’ leagues, and from November he was in good form, wrote Japanese table tennis magazine ‘Table Tennis World’.
Mizutani defeated Asuka Machi 4-1 in the final on Sunday. Here’s highlights of the match below:
Mizutani set a record in 2011 with his fifth consecutive win of the tournament, which has been held annually in January since 1936 in Tokyo.
Maharu Yoshimura, whose serve we learned in last week’s article, won the tournament in 2012, while Koki Niwa defeated Mizutani 4-3 in a thrilling final in 2013.
“Winning the All Japan is really difficult,” said Mizutani in a post match interview. “The level (of play) has certainly increased since my first win.”
“I’ve won five times in the past, but without the overall title, I’m not happy, so I wanted to win this one at any cost!”
“(I was in form)…but I still had nervous thoughts. The All Japan (Championship) is very special,” he said.
Amazingly, Mizutani is still not the winningest player in the history of the tournament after his sixth win. Kiyoshi Saito has won the tournament 7 times (1982-85, 1988-90, 1992) and on the women’s side Chire Koyama was victorious 8 times including a staggering 6 times consecutively (1992-97). Koyama was a former Chinese national player under her former name He Zhili.
But at just 23, one could still expect Mizutani to win the tournament in future years.
Can Mizutani break the record by winning the tournament three more times?