JAPAN OPEN 2014 R32 – World and defending champions down

Strong draughts in the hall produced some unforeseen results on Day 2 of the Yonex Japan Open Superseries, women’s singles World Champion Intanon suffering an upset but youngest-ever Superseries titleholder […]

Strong draughts in the hall produced some unforeseen results on Day 2 of the Yonex , women’s singles World Champion Intanon suffering an upset but youngest-ever titleholder Akane Yamaguchi was just shy of an even bigger upset of London Olympic gold medallist Li Xuerui.

By Miyuki Komiya, Badzine Correspondent live in Tokyo.  Photos: Yves Lacroix for Badmintonphoto (live)

As always, the Round of 32 produced a very long day.  The matches started at 10AM sharp but still didn’t finish the same day.  But part of the delay came when Japanese hopefuls refused to give up, in trying to score victories over some high ranking visitors.

In the men’s singles, Japan promising player Kento Momota played against World #4 Jan O Jorgensen. The Dane had a good start but Kento played patiently and got 7 consecutive points en route to winning the first game 21-13.

The second game was also at Kento’s pace as the 19-year-old got out to a 15-7 lead. The Dane wouldn’t give up, though, and he caught the youngster at 16-all with 8 consecutive points, then kept his concentrate until he had got the game 22-20.

The final game started close game until 9-all, when Jorgensen tried to kill the shuttle off Kento’s net shot. From then, Jorgensen ran away with it and took the decider 21-12.

“I’m not feeling good today. Momota was good today,” said Jorgensen after the match.  “His smashes were not so strong and fast so I could play patiently. I guess he will become a good player in the future.”

Another promising young Japanese player, 16-year-old defending champion Akane Yamaguchi, also played well, in her case against 2012 London Olympic gold medallist Li Xuerui.  Akane got the first game easily and the second game was also at her pace. But after finding herself sitting on the court, Li picked herself up, changed her mind, and proceeded to defeat Akane 17-21, 21-19, 21-18.

If Akane was unable to pull off a big upset, Liu Xin did manage it.  Last autumn, Liu and Akane were back-to-back surprise Superseries champions and this year, Liu produced some more magic, defeating defending World Champion Ratchanok Intanon 21-11, 14-21, 21-16.

One more upset came in the women’s singles contest between Korean Bae Yeon Ju and Zhang Beiwen from the USA.  Years ago, Zhang and Bae were both junior hopefuls who were victims of Liu Xin’s run to the 2007 Asian Junior title but since then, they have had very different levels of success.

Zhang, who was born in China but is now in the USA after several years in Singapore, has been working on a collection of International Challenge titles that have allowed her to get back close to her highest ever world ranking of 21st.  In Tokyo, she defeated the world #6 Bae in straight games, 21-10,24-22.

In men’s doubles, Tan Boon Heong succeeded in a scratch pairing with Goh V. Shem where he had failed in the Thomas Cup final, in defeating world #3 and home favourites Hiroyuki Endo / Kenichi Hayakawa by the one-sided scoreline of 21-13,21-11.

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Miyuki Komiya

About Miyuki Komiya

Miyuki Komiya is Badzine's correspondent in Japan. She joined the Badzine team in 2008 to provide coverage of the Japanese badminton scene. She has played badminton for more than 30 years and has been a witness to the modern history of Japanese badminton, both watching players become stronger on court and hearing the players comment on their increasing success over the years. Contact her at: miyuki @ badzine.net