KOREA OPEN 2017 R16 – Another lucky Seoul September for Polii?

Japan was on both ends of upsets on Day 3 of the Korea Open as Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu ousted World Championship runners-up Fukushima/Hirota. By Don Hearn, Badzine Correspondent […]

Japan was on both ends of upsets on Day 3 of the as Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu ousted World Championship runners-up Fukushima/Hirota.

By Don Hearn, Badzine Correspondent live in Seoul.  Photos: Yves Lacroix / Badmintonphoto (live)

The big news early in the day on Thursday in Seoul was the loss by world #1 Tai Tzu Ying to Japan’s Minatsu Mitani (pictured right).  By the time Mitani had completed her first win over Tai in over 4 years, Japan had already suffered its own surprise loss by top mixed pair Kazuno/Kurihara but the big upset would come a little later.

Greysia Polii has had plenty of success in Korea.  She reached her first Korea Open final back in the summer of 2006, right before the event became a .  Her first title on the peninsula came in September of 2014 at the Asian Games in Incheon.  When the Seoul moved to the September slot it now occupies, Polii again got the better of the world-class field and made it the first title for either player.

Winners of a Grand Prix Gold title in their first outing as a pair, Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu (pictured top) are still looking for some stability for their partnership, in only their 5th international tournament together.  On Wednesday, they turned the tables on SEA Games gold medallists Kititharakul / Prajongjai, who had edged out their Indonesian fellow seeds in Kuala Lumpur last month.

Today, they had to contend with the in form Yuki Fukushima / Sayaka Hirota (pictured), the best pair from Glasgow who made the trip to Korea this month.  The Indonesians bounced back from a disappointing opening game and were neck-and-neck with the Japanese in the decider before pulling away to make the final game convincing.

“We knew they did well a couple of weeks ago, we learn, we watch, but we were confident,” said Greysia Polii after the win.  “For the strategy, the technique, and physically, I think we are about the same level.

“We kept in mind that we can win and we aren’t scared of any opponent, no matter whether they were runners-up at the World Championships or whatever.  We just believe in ourselves that we can win.

“We know that all of the Japanese pairs are good physically and they are good in playing long rallies as well and they aren’t likely to make easy mistakes either.  So we just go with the rhythm and sustain our mentality until the end.

“Both of us have to work hard and we need to practice and we need to do the rotation on the court.  It’s so different between when I played with Nitya and when I play with Apriyani.  We need to find the chemistry between me and her and to find a new path to where we can play well again.”

On the prospect of again finding a run of form in Korea, Polii said, “It’s still a lovely place for me.  I want to enjoy the tournament.  I love being in Korea.”

That was just the beginning of the ups and downs for Japan in the women’s doubles.  Later in the afternoon, they traded upsets with hosts Korea.  Mayu Matsumoto and Wakana Nagahara (pictured bottom) succeeded against Shin Seung Chan where they had failed in the U.S. Open.  They beat defending champions Shin and Jung Kyung Eun in three after allowing the Koreans to get within two of the match in the second game.

Kim Hye Rin and Yoo Hae Won won in two close games over 6th-seeded Shiho Tanaka  and Koharu Yonemoto.  Late in the day, though, both Hirota and Yonemoto got unexpected second winds.  Hirota was able to collaborate with Takuro Hoki in his second upset of the day of Chinese Taipei’s Wang Chi Lin.  They beat the Universiade gold medallists Wang and Lee Chia Hsin in three hard-fought games.

In the penultimate match of the day, Yonemoto and Yuki Kaneko shortened the remaining days of Mathias Christiansen’s partnership with Sara Thygesen.  They came back from a game down beat the world #16 pair, which has just the Japan Open to go before Christiansen begins partnering Christinna Pedersen, who at that moment was finishing off a surprisingly riveting women’s doubles win over Korea’s Chae/Kim on the adjacent court.

Click here for complete Thursday results


Don Hearn

About Don Hearn

Don Hearn is an Editor and Correspondent who hails from a badminton-loving town in rural Canada. He joined the Badzine team in 2006 to provide coverage of the Korean badminton scene and is committed to helping Badzine to promote badminton to the place it deserves as a global sport. Contact him at: don @ badzine.net