SINGAPORE OPEN 2015 QF – Japan’s duos shine

Despite the tricky challenges thrown at them and the pressure, all three Japanese pairs – two women’s doubles and one men’s doubles – claimed their tickets to the semi-finals of […]

Despite the tricky challenges thrown at them and the pressure, all three Japanese pairs – two women’s doubles and one men’s doubles – claimed their tickets to the semi-finals of the 2015 OUE .

By Adrian Kok, Badzine Correspondent live in Singapore. Photos: Yves Lacroix & Raphael Sachetat for Badmintonphoto (live)

No. 1 seeds Misaki Matsutomo / Ayaka Takahashi (photo)  booked a place in semi-finals by defeating Tian Qing / Xia Huan. It was a very close match where both sides played with much tenacity. It was pressure cooker as both parties were pressuring each other hoping for mistakes.

The first half of the first game had a thin score gap, the Japanese pair only succeeding in stamping their dominance in the latter half of the game. Midway through the second, the Chinese pair managed to get their rhythm which allowed them to inch their way closer to Japanese pair’s score. The Chinese ladies were relentless with their attacks but it was the Japanese defense that held them together. Through much perseverance, the Japanese pair had a breakthrough and went on to win the match 21-15, 21-19.

When asked what was their strategy, Takahashi replied: “Yes we did feel the pressure but we kept on focusing on every point. We made sure to minimize our mistakes and tried to win one point at a time. We knew that our opponents were catching up with us so we knew we had to keep the upper hand.”

Their compatriots Miyuki Maeda and Reika Kakiiwa made it two for Japan in the event after they beat Dutch duo of Selena Piek (photo) and Eefje Muskens, but not without trouble, as the Europeans were very close to taking the first game.

Endo and Hayakawa secure semi-final berth

In the men’s doubles event, third seeds Hiroyuki Endo/ Kenichi Hayakawa (photo) were facing the in-form Danish pair of Mads Conrad-Petersen / Mads Pieler Kolding. The match stretched on to a rubber game with both pairs giving it their best to clinch every point. The first game was comfortably won by the Danish pair with a lot of errors on the Japanese side.

“In the first game I was not confident with my service given the height of the tall Dane. I had to calm myself to reduce my service mistakes,” said Endo.

Hayakawa added, “It was not easy to serve to someone that is so tall.”

To avenge the loss of the first game, the Japanese pair took the opportunity to raise the level of their game, which shocked the Danes into losing the second game. Their strategy paid off in the decider as well.

“We began to change our strategy in the second and third game by reducing our lifts to Kolding. He is tall and he has a very good smashing angle. On top of that, we were being mindful of the forecourt where it is the strength of Petersen,” said Endo.

In the rubber game, it was a neck-and-neck battle all the way in the until the end of the match. Several unforced errors proved to be costly for the Danes as they lost crucial points which paved the way for the Japanese pair to capitalize. The Japanese took the opportunity won the game 21-18 after a 74-minute battle.

“We felt that the match was a roller-coaster ride with several unforced errors from both pairs. It was a tense match which we felt could have been handled better,” said Mads Conrad afterward.

Lee Yong Dae and Yoo Yeon Seong (photo) were the surprise losers of this quarter-final stage as the top seeds went down to an inspired and ever-jumping duo of Pratama and Suwardi. The top-seeded Koreans did all they could to keep the shuttles alive – including diving in tandem on a few occasions, but the Indonesians were to be in the limelight and played a perfect game to enter the semi-final, edging the mighty Koreans 21-18, 21-19 after a thriller.

As the previous day, there were few surprises in the mixed doubles category. The Indonesian pair of Tontowi Ahmad / Liliyana Natsir silenced the local Singaporean of Danny Bawa Chrisnanta / Vanessa Neo in a straight game victory while Zhang and Zhao led a strong Chinese trio that advanced to the semi-finals.  Even the win for 6th-seeded Swiss Open champions Lu/Huang over the 4th-seeded Adcocks was in accord with this week’s world rankings.

Click here for complete quarter-final results

About Adrian Kok