LONDON (Reuters) – Teenager Shintaro Mochizuki became the first Japanese to win a junior boys’ Grand Slam title, beating Spain’s Carlos Gimeno Valero 6-3 6-2 in the Wimbledon final on Sunday.
The 16-year-old backed his aggressive backhand throughout the contest and went on to win 17 of his 23 points at the net to seal victory in 61 minutes.
Mochizuki became Japan’s only second Grand Slam junior champion, following the footsteps of Kazuko Sawamatsu, who captured the Wimbledon and French Open girls’ titles in 1969.
Having began playing tennis at the age of three, Mochizuki has fine-tuned his game under coach Natsuo Yamanaka at IMG’s tennis academy in Bradenton, Florida, where Japan’s current number one Kei Nishikori also honed his game.
“I like coming into the net, yeah, a lot… My coach taught me, like, I’m good at that,” Mochizuki said of his adventurous serve-and-volley approach. “I just practiced a lot and improved with all matches.”
While Nishikori and reigning Australian Open and U.S. Open champion Naomi Osaka have changed the landscape of Japanese tennis in recent years, Mochizuki found his role model in Swiss icon Roger Federer.
“I love watching him (Federer) on TV,” he added. “I don’t want to copy him, but I love watching him.”
On Saturday, 17-year-old Daria Snigur became the second Ukrainian player to win the girls’ singles title at Wimbledon with a 6-4 6-4 win over American Alexa Noel.
(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)