WATCH: Brothers’ battle in French table tennis final ends in tears

Older brother Alexis Lebrun comes out on top - and jumps on the table to celebrate while his brother cries

It was joy for one brother and despair for the other as Alexis and Félix Lebrun faced each other in the French table tennis final
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This year’s final of the French national table tennis championship proved an unusual one, with two brothers pitted against each other and the younger sibling - the favourite to win - shedding tears of emotion as he was beaten.

Alexis Lebrun, 20, and brother Félix, 17, had emerged victorious in the doubles final the previous day but they were on other ends of the table in the singles contest, held in their hometown of Montpellier.

To add to the unusual situation, the women’s national final also featured two sisters pitted against each other.

The Lebrun’s final set was exceptionally close and, after winning match point, Alexis leapt onto the table and roared, celebrating his third victory at the national championship in a row. Félix dissolved into tears, overcome with emotion.

The two then embraced before Alexis basked in the applause of the crowd, who showed their appreciation for Félix afterwards.

A sibling rivalry

The younger brother is ranked 5th in the world, which is the highest for any non-Chinese player (they have dominated the sport for years).

Alexis is ranked 22nd currently and they are both important French prospects for the upcoming Paris Olympics.

However, despite his higher ranking and being seen as the better player, Félix has still never been able to defeat his brother in a professional match.

In a radio interview after the game, their father Stéphane Lebrun said: “Félix is the better player and Alexis knows it. Felix plays better and has only lost to his brother and the three best Chinese players in the last year.”

On the day, Alexis’ inside-and-out knowledge of Félix and the psychological aspect were too much for the younger brother to handle.

Félix said that the match was “one of the hardest he has ever played in terms of emotion” and “I am happy he (Alexis) is French champion, at home, but I would rather it was me”.

Despite their determination to each win, the brothers have a lot of respect for one another and embraced a couple of times afterwards.

Asked about his younger brother’s tears, Alexis said: “It is tough for him. Montpellier is obviously close to our hearts and we knew that this was an important game. It will be a difficult pill to swallow but with time, he will realise we had an exceptional match today.

“Even if I won today, he is the leader of the French team and an immense champion.”

Alexis won by a score of 11-3, 11-6, 8-11, 9-11, 11-5, 16-14. Table tennis is played in a best of seven sets format with each set being the first to get to 11, with a two point difference.

You can watch the full match here.

Two sibling finals

In the women’s singles final, there was a very similar story with Camille Lutz, 21, defeating her sister Charlotte, 18, to win four sets to one.

“It is very hard because on one hand I am very happy for myself but terribly sad for my sister,” Camille said after the match. “It is a mix of emotions that is difficult to deal with.

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