JAPAN OPEN 2017 Finals – Marin ends Superseries title drought

Carolina Marin ended a 21-month dry spell in Superseries finals, beating defending champion He Bingjiao in the final of the Japan Open. By Emzi Regala, Badzine Correspondent live in Tokyo.  […]

Carolina Marin ended a 21-month dry spell in finals, beating defending champion He Bingjiao in the final of the .

By Emzi Regala, Badzine Correspondent live in Tokyo.  Photos: Yves Lacroix / Badmintonphoto (live)

Carolina Marin (pictured top) can have a huge sigh of relief as her 21-month Superseries dry spell has finally came to an end, as she bested the defending Japan Open champion He Bingjiao.  After a hard-fought first game, not even the thunderous cheering “He Bingjiao, jia you!!” could break Marin’s concentration as she broke away early in the second game, comfortably snatching the crown from He Bingjiao by winning 23-21, 21-12.

“I knew it was very important to take the first game,” said Marin at the press conference after the match.  “I’ve practiced to correct the mistakes I made in the past, especially from losing three finals in a row in Asia earlier this year.  I was disappointed not being able to play against Okuhara in the semi-finals, but I wish her full recovery soon.

“I know that regaining the world #1 spot again will not come easy, but for now, I’ll enjoy each match as much as I can,” she added.

In the men’s singles finals contest, Viktor Axelsen (pictured above) proved his status as World Champion after dethroning 2016 champion Lee Chong Wei in what turned out to be the only 3-game final of the day, which ended 21-14, 19-21, 21-14.  The victory, only Axelsen’s second in 11 encounters with the long-time world #1, came in their first meeting of 2017.

Ayaka Takahashi / Misaki Matsutomo gave the Japanese fans big reasons to celebrate as they re-gained the women’s doubles title, a distinction they first held in 2014.  Capitalizing on weakness in defense, and at times impatience of the less experienced of their Korean opponents, 20-year-old Kong Hee Yong (pictured left, with veteran partner Kim Ha Na), the Japanese duo prevailed in 56 minutes.

“This pair has been very impressive beginning from the qualifications, winning against strong Chinese opponents.  We knew this was not going to be an easy match, so we really came prepared.  I’m happy that we did better than our runner-up finish last year,” said Takahashi after the match.

The celebration did not last long for the Japanese fans as the succeeding matches did not produce the results the fans were hoping for.  In men’s doubles, Takuto Inoue / Yuki Kaneko were quickly shut down by their pumped up opponents from Indonesia Marcus Fernaldi Gideon/ Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo (pictured), in a contest that lasted just a minute under an hour, 21-12 21-15. Sukamuljo was moving at lightning speed at the net, killing the bird at every opportunity.

“We’ve been on the losing end lately so it’s very good to be back to the top,” said Sukamuljo.

Takuto Inoue / Yuki Kaneko admitted that the pair still lack experience in high level international tournaments but would like to focus first on becoming Japan National Champions first, thus their immediate goal is the National Championships scheduled for December.

Sharing the same fate of their compatriots in mixed doubles, Japan’s Takuro Hoki / Sayaka Hirota could not find a solution to keep up with the Chinese pair Wang Yilyu / Huang Dongping (pictured) and bowed out in straight games 21-13, 21-8.  Both they and the Indonesians were runners-up in Korea last week, but seized the opportunity  for the title after beating last week’s winners at the semi-final stage in Tokyo.

“This is a very memorable moment, my first Superseries title,” said Wang Yilyu.

“We are still ranked low compared to our Chinese team-mates; hence, our current goal is to be ranked #1 within the China team,” added Huang, who also thanked the Chinese supporters who showed up to cheer for them.

The title is the first at the Superseries level for either player but while the Korea Open last week was the first ever final for Wang, Huang reached two women’s doubles finals late last year so her first Superseries title came in her fourth appearance in a final.

Final results
WD:  Misaki Matsutomo / Ayaka Takahashi (JPN) [1] beat Kim Ha Na / Kong Hee Yong (KOR)  21-18, 21-16
MD:  Marcus Fernaldi Gideon / Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo [3] beat Takuto Inoue / Yuki Kaneko (JPN)  21-12, 21-15
XD:  Wang Yilyu / Huang Dongping (CHN) beat Takuro Hoki / Sayaka Hirota (JPN)  21-13, 21-8
WS:  Carolina Marin (ESP) [5] beat He Bingjiao (CHN) [6]  23-21, 21-12
MS:  Viktor Axelsen (DEN) [3] beat Lee Chong Wei (MAS) [5]  21-14, 19-21, 21-14

Click here for complete results

About Emzi Regala