JAPAN OPEN 2018 R16 – China takes upsets big and small

No fewer than five Asian Games finalists were bounced out of the Japan Open Thursday, courtesy of China, youngsters and veterans alike. By Miyuki Komiya, Badzine Correspondent live in Tokyo.  […]

No fewer than five Asian Games finalists were bounced out of the Thursday, courtesy of China, youngsters and veterans alike.

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

The biggest stories on Thursday at the Japan Open came in the first two matches.  World #33 Chen Xiaoxin in China was up against Asian Games gold medallist Tai Tzu Ying (pictured right).  Tai was looking good, as usual, with a good lead until 18-16 in the first game, when Chen took 5 consecutive points to take the one-game lead.

The second game was a one-sided affair as Tai made a lot of mistakes and was not able to control the shuttle.  Chen managed to get on the offensive in each rally from start to finish.  On match point, Tai’s shot was called out, and she challenged unsuccessfully, giving the straight-game victory to the 20-year-old Chinese shuttler 21-18, 21-14.

“My opponent was able to control our match because I made too many mistakes,” Tai said after the match.

Chen Xiaoxin (pictured top) said, “I played better than usual.  I just did my best in each rally.  I enjoyed my match aggressively.”

Lest the door be left open for the Jakarta silver medallist to take her first Japan Open title, Chen’s compatriot Gao Fangjie made sure to close that option down as well.  Gao, too, won in straight games over India’s Pusarla Venkata Sindhu (pictured).  Chen Yufei also beat Korea’s Sung Ji Hyun but Cai Yanyan couldn’t complete the hat-trick of upsets for China as she went down to Akane Yamaguchi.

It was in women’s doubles that other Chinese players would make their next biggest upset.  In fact, Du Yue / Li Yinhui were next up on court and taking on two-time defending champions Misaki Matsutomo / Ayaka Takahashi (pictured below).

The first game was an easy one for the Japanese pair but after they’d won it 21-12, their Chinese opponents sped up and rattled off 5 consecutive points to start the second game.  The Japanese pair caught up and the game stayed close until 24-24.  The Japanese pair got two points in a row to earn their second match point but they failed to take a third and the Chinese pair refused to give up, eventually snatching away the second game 27-25.

In the deciding game, the Chinese pair kept attacking and using good combinations.  The started off with a good lead and the Japanese pair was not able to do anything.  The Chinese youngsters had their way until the end when Du Yue and Li Yinhui (pictured below) claimed victory over the reigning Olympic champions.

“Matsutomo/Takahashi are a wonderful pair so we are very happy to get a win from them,” Li said after the match.  “They are very strong.  We just thought about the each rally one at a time, trying to do our best.  We lost the first game easily so we tried to play our best without any pressure.”

“In fact, we are big fans of Matsutomo/Takahashi because they have a lot of variety in their playing style and tactics,” added Du.

At the end of the day only the two World Championship finalists survived, of 8 Japanese pairs who started this tournament.  In men’s doubles, the Danish challenge ended as former world #1 Boe/Mogensen were defeated by Maas/Tabeling of the Netherlands.  The highest seed to go down was Japan’s own Kamura/Sonoda.  The current world #3 were beaten in three by Korean youngsters Kim Won Ho / Seo Seung Jae.

Finally, the home team did get in on the upset game in mixed doubles.  First, All England winners Yuta Watanabe / Arisa Higashino (pictured bottom) saw off Asian Games silver medallists Tang Chun Man / Tse Ying Suet, then Takuro Hoki and Koharu Yonemoto ousted 8th-seeded Indonesians Hafiz Faizal and Gloria Emanuelle Widjaja.

Click here for complete Thursday 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