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 July 14.
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 only the second Grand Slam junior champion from Japan, following in the footsteps of Kazuko Sawamatsu, who captured the Wimbledon and French Open girls’ titles in 1969.
Playing tennis from the age of 3, Mochizuki has fine-tuned his game under coach Natsuo Yamanaka at IMG’s tennis academy in Bradenton, Florida, where Japan’s current No. 1 Kei Nishikori also honed his game.
“I like coming into the net, yeah, a lot,” Mochizuki said of his 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, the teen’s role model is Swiss icon Roger Federer.
“I don’t want to copy (Federer), but I love watching him,” he said.
In the International Tennis Federation rankings released July 15, Mochizuki jumped eight spots from the previous week, becoming the first Japanese to top the rankings for players aged 18 and under since the current combined junior ranking system was introduced in 2004. (Reuters, Kyodo)