JAPAN OPEN 2013 QF – Tai still on track for a back-to-back

Japan’s Sayaka Takahashi threw everything she had against defending champion Tai Tzu Ying, but the world #8 proved she had enough poise to stage a come-from-behind win 22-20, 21-18.  She […]

Japan’s Sayaka Takahashi threw everything she had against defending champion Tai Tzu Ying, but the world #8 proved she had enough poise to stage a come-from-behind win 22-20, 21-18.  She will have to fight another Japanese in tomorrow’s semis as Takahashi’s younger compatriot Akane Yamaguchi continues to impress the crowd by beating her team-mate Yui Hashimoto 21-12, 21-16.

By Emzi Regala, live from Tokyo. Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

Known to be a slow starter, Tai Tzu Ying (pictured) of Chinese Taipei played catch-up in almost the entirety of the 1st game but even so managed to reach the 1st game point. Although Takahashi saved the game point twice, she could not get past Taiwanese.  Tai got more positive in the 2nd game and that allowed several unforced errors in the part of the Japanese, enough to cause her to lose the match.

“I honestly did not expect to win so I’m very happy with today’s result!” said the very delightful Tai, whose next roadblock en route to her second straight final is another local player.

It is none other than 2012 World Junior Championship runner-up Akane Yamaguchi (photo) who now stands in the way of the defending champion’s quest for a second straight title as the 16-year-old once again displayed a brilliant performance to beat her team-mate Yui Hashimoto.  Hashimoto was nowhere near the excellent form she had on the two previous days, when she disposed of both of this year’s Asian Junior Championship finalists, Busanan Ongbamrungphan and Aya Ohori.  She was simply outclassed by Yamaguchi in all departments of the game – from the smashes to the net shots.

In the classic battle of the Wangs, Yihan pushed Shixian to the back of the court, enabling her to be in better position for soft placement to the net.  In the end, it was the Olympic silver medallist who emerged on top 21-17, 21-15.  Wang Yihan will be tested in tomorrow by a surprise semi-finalist, qualifier Shizuka Uchida of Japan.

“I don’t know her, I have never heard of her and I don’t even know what she looks like, but only the top 4 players remain now, so I expect tomorrow to be another tough fight and I will be ready,” replied Wang Yihan when asked how she plans to deal with her unexpected opponent.

Champs No More

Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi (photo) made sure that they emphasized their much-higher world ranking against defending champions Poon Lok Yan / Tse Ying Suet of Hong Kong, disposing of the latter pair 21-17, 21-15.  Poon/Tse bid the tournament goodbye, effectively relinquishing their crown.

Although Pia Zebadiah Bernadeth of Indonesia lost her mixed doubles match with brother Markis Kidos in the morning session, she says that she would come into the women’s doubles match with Pradipta with less pressure.  “We’ll be up against very strong opponents tomorrow, Ma and Tang, so we don’t have any expectations.  We are here to enjoy our matches and have fun.  That’s all,” commented Bernadeth after their match, in which they defeated former world #1 Cheng Wen Hsing and her new partner.

Indonesia’s newest golden pair Mohammed Ahsan / Hendra Setiawan (photo) once again breezed through their quarter-final matches to advance a step further, dispatching Lee Sheng Mu / Tsai Chia Hsin of Chinese Taipei in yet another fast and furious sub-30-minute match that ended 21-11, 21-17.

“The Chinese Taipei pair is a very dangerous pair once they get their rhythm so we were very careful.  I was very focused on making sure that did not happen,” commented Setiawan.

“Hendra is a world and Olympic champion so I think he’s more confident than me.  I’m still working on my confidence level and that sometimes causes me to make mistakes.  I have to stay believing in myself and my partner. I think that is our key strategy,” added Ahsan.

Click here  for complete quarter-final results

About Emzi Regala