JAPAN OPEN 2016 SF –  Korea’s Ko powers through to two finals

Ko Sung Hyun shone on semi-finals day at the Japan Open, first with Kim Ki Jung in a 3-game battle against Takeshi Kamura / Keigo Sonoda, then with a clinical […]

Ko Sung Hyun shone on semi-finals day at the , first with Kim Ki Jung in a 3-game battle against Takeshi Kamura / Keigo Sonoda, then with a clinical victory with Kim Ha Na over Rio mixed doubles silver medallists Chan Peng Soon / Goh Liu Ling.

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

It was a superb display of physical prowess by Ko Sung Hyun and Kim Gi Jung, as they  triumphed over the speedy play of home favourites Takeshi Kamura / Keigo Sonoda, but not without needing a decider. Kamura and Sonoda started with lightning speed flat drives, winning the opening game, but were unable to sustain the required energy to defend against the powerful attacks of Ko and Kim.  The Japanese pair saved 3 match points at 20-15, but the gap was far too wide for the pair to overcome.

“We were very fast in the first game but when we changed courts in the second game, we started to struggle because the shuttles are not flying high,” explained Kamura. “The Koreans being extremely powerful gained advantage through their continuous smashes.  We burned up too much energy defending.  Towards the end, there was no spring left in our legs and it was too difficult to keep up.  That is why we lost.”

“Their drives in the first game was extremely difficult to follow,” said Kim after the match, “but we gradually adjusted, so from the second game onward, it did not bother us anymore. We then were able to setup our play so that Ko could attack from the back, while I moved in forward to the net.”

In the mixed doubles match, Kim Ha Na established her dominance against Goh Liu Ying to orchestrate rallies where her partner Ko would be able to again display his physical prowess, just like in his earlier men’s doubles semi-final match.

“At first we were nervous because Chan/Goh are the Olympic silver medallists.  But we also won some matches against them before so we just went and played our usual style,” said a satisfied Ko Sung Hyun after the match.

The Malaysian pair said they still haven’t fully recovered from the “post-Olympic” fatigue. Chan also pointed out that there was also added pressure now that they are Olympic medalists.

In the women’s singles event, the semi-finals featured a Japan-versus-China double-header.  Both matches saw lady luck smiled towards the Chinese shuttlers.   After giving away her first game 21-17, Japan’s Aya Ohori found herself leading 19-11 late in the second.   The spectators were ready to watch a third and final game, but to their shock, He Bingjiao patiently rallied to completely halt Ohori’s momentum and stole the second game 22-20 to reach her first final.

“This was not the way I imagined nor expected to lose”, says the visibly disappointed Ohori.

In the adjacent court, China’s Sun Yu proved she is up to her Japan Yonex tournament billing as the next star to fill the shoes recently vacated by the retirement of the two Chinese stars Wang Yihan and Wang Shixian.  Sun beat local star Akane Yamaguchi in straight games 21-17, 21-18.  In booking a Sunday showdown with He, Sun thus forged an all-Chinese women’s singles final, a scenario that has been recently been a rarity.

In the men’s singles, the final will feature a classic between Lee Chong Wei – who edged Marc Zwiebler (pictured bottom) quite easily – and Jan Jorgensen of Denmark, who stormed through Korea’s Son Wan Ho.

Finals line-up
MD:  Kim Gi Jung / Ko Sung Hyun (KOR) [7] vs. Li Junhui / Liu Yuchen (CHN) [8]
WD:  Misaki Matsutomo / Ayaka Takahashi (JPN) [1] vs. Christinna Pedersen / Kamilla Rytter Juhl (DEN) [2]
MS:  Lee Chong Wei (MAS) [1] vs. Jan O Jorgensen (DEN) [3]
WS:  Sun Yu (CHN) [7] vs. He Bingjiao (CHN) [8]
XD:  Ko Sung Hyun / Kim Ha Na (KOR) [1] vs. Zheng Siwei / Chen Qingchen (CHN) [7]


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