JAPAN OPEN Day1 – New faces and last hurrahs

The 2015 Japan Open began Tuesday in Tokyo Metropolitan Gym and as Tropical Storm Etau gets set to whallop Japan, two Japanese favourites were hit by upsets in the qualification […]

The 2015 Japan Open began Tuesday in Tokyo Metropolitan Gym and as Tropical Storm Etau gets set to whallop Japan, two Japanese favourites were hit by upsets in the qualification rounds.

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

The 2015 edition of the kicked off on Tuesday as Tokyo began to experience heavy rains with the approach of Tropical Storm Etau, known locally Typhoon 18.  Inside the hall, two very popular Japanese veterans lost in the qualifying rounds and the rain outside seemed to mimic the disappointment felt by Japanese fans.

No Day 2 for Tago and company

Two years ago, Kenichi Tago (pictured left) was in the final of this tournament against the great Lee Chong Wei.  For Tago, that was number five in what is now a list of seven unsuccessful bids in the finals of events, while the list for Lee is almost too long to count.  This year, both players appeared in the qualification rounds, with very different results.

Lee Chong Wei (pictured right) played well and advanced to the main draw easily, making quick work of 2013 World Junior Champion Heo Kwang Hee in his second match.  On the other hand, Tago was beaten by Korean veteran Lee Dong Keun, on the first match, with the Korean moving to the main draw past Osaka International winner and compatriot Jeon Hyeok Jin.

Withdrawals in the main and qualifying draws meant an opportunity for some Japanese youngsters to move up from the reserve list but 2014 Asian Junior Championship runner-up Kanta Tsuneyama was stopped at the second hurdle by Indonesia’s Ihsan Maulana Mustofa.  Chinese Taipei’s Wang Tzu Wei took care of both Indonesian teenagers who had gone on dream runs to the quarter-finals at the Indonesian Open.

Shintaro Ikeda throws in the towel

All seeded men’s doubles pairs won and moved to main draw but Japanese fans were particularly interested in Shintaro Ikeda’s match because he had announced beforehand that this would be his last tournament.  Shintaro won his first match, but lost the second match to the reigning World Junior Champions from Thailand, Dechapol Puavaranukroh / Kittinupong Kedren.

After his loss, Shintaro Ikeda (pictured) said in the press conference, “I did do my best.  I am disappointed in my loss, but I am satisfied.  It was really a wonderful life as a player.”

Ikeda, who participated in a retirement ceremony here three years ago when his mixed partner Reiko Shiota said farewell, will have his own opportunity to say good-bye at a ceremony that will be held on Sunday morning in the venue.

Japanese shine, both women and girls

Two veteran and two junior Japanese players won against seeded players.  Saena Kawakami (pictured), the high school student who won Grand Prix Gold and Grand Prix titles in New Zealand and Vietnam respectively this year, beat Aya Ohori who is 1 year older than Saena.  The audience welcomed a new rising star.

Together with 17-year-old Moe Araki, who also advanced from qualifying, Japan will have three current juniors in the main draw, as world #10 Akane Yamaguchi is also on hand to seek the title she won in 2013.

Jang Ye Na advances in both

Several current and former top ten players were in action in the women’s and mixed doubles.  In particular, Korea’s Jang Ye Na advanced in both, with her relatively new partners Lee So Hee and Yoo Yeon Seong (pictured bottom) respectively.

Lee’s former partner Shin Seung Chan was also successful as she and former world #5 Jung Kyung Eun made it to the main draw past another pairing of former top ten players when they beat Indonesia’s Pia Zebadiah Bernadeth and Aprilsasi Putri Lejarsar Variella in two quick games.

Click here for complete Tuesday results

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