by Wade Townsend
Jun Mizutani defeated Lee Sangsu 4-3 (11-6, 11-9, 4-11, 6-11, 8-11, 11-7, 12-10) to move in to the semi final stage of the Men’s Singles at the LION Japan Open.
Lee was struggling to attack and find offensive shots, particularly on his return game, early on in the match, giving Mizutani a 2-0 lead. Mizutani was able to stay close to the table and was the more aggressive of the pair. He controlled the game by playing backhands down the line, keeping Lee on the back foot.
Once Lee found his forehand however the tide changed. Lee won three consecutive games and charged to a 7-6 lead. On the brink of defeat Mizutani called a timeout.
“During the timeout my coach said my receive was very bad; if you play short, he attacks. So I should make a chikita and be aggressive.” Jun Mizutani
The advice worked and Mizutani powered through his opponent like a freight train, winning five consecutive points and taking the match to a decider.
In the seventh game everything was coming up Mizutani and he led 10-6.
But Lee wasn’t done. A long serve, a crazy backhand, and some brilliant shot making later and the score was suddenly 10-10.
Yet as quickly as the comeback came it disappeared. Lee sprayed the ball long on a third ball forehand attack, giving Mizutani a fifth match point. This one wasn’t wasted. In the blink of an eye Mizutani went from choking to champion.
“In the last set I was very aggressive on backhand. Because I move very slow and Lee plays very deep to the corners and if I move back I won’t take one point.” Jun Mizutani
With the win Japan’s hopes in the Men’s Singles are still alive.
His opponent will be China’s Fan Zhendong who defeated colleague Liang Jingkun (10-12, 7-11, 12-10, 11-4, 11-8, 11-6).
Liang got off to a perfect start taking the first two games, and at 10-10 in the third had a chance to take a strangle hold of the match. But Fan averted the threat and took the game.
“As teammates, we are very familiar with each other, we both played at our usual level today. In the first two games, I think I’m less lucky, I had the chance to take both games, but didn’t manage to. Winning the third game after 10-10 was crucial.” Fan Zhendong
With one game under his belt he didn’t look back and was a brick wall; a brick wall that packed a punch. He pummelled Liang for the next three games to take the match.