JAPAN OPEN 2011 R16 – Sunny day for Tago

A new day has come.  From the looks of it, Japan’s Kenichi Tago has weathered the storm.  The typhoon may well have washed away enough of Japan’s misfortunes that he […]

A new day has come.  From the looks of it, Japan’s Kenichi Tago has weathered the storm.  The typhoon may well have washed away enough of Japan’s misfortunes that he now still has a chance to grab a medal in this year’s Yonex , a Super Series that is very important to the young Japanese.

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

As clear as today’s blue sky, so was Kenichi Tago’s immediate future as he successfully bagged an opening match performance over Chinese Taipei Chou Tien Chen.

“Yonex Japan Open is my most important tournament,” Kenichi Tago (photo) would tell the press every year.  Perhaps overeager to give his countrymen something to hope for every year is both a good and bad thing for the Japanese who recently turned 22 years old.

Tago had good start, jumping ahead 9-2 in the first game. It looked like an easy game for the Japanese shuttler but Chou wouldn’t easily give up and became more offensive. Chou’s change of the pace found him scoring 8 consecutive points. The momentum shifted to Chou’s pace as 17-13 but Tago kept his concentration and got the first game with his own run of 8 consective points, ending the first game 21-17.

The second game continued with Tago’s pace from start until last and the local took it 21-11.

“Tago and I were born in the same year. We’re just about 21 years old,” said Chou after the match.  “He has already been a finalist in the All England Open in 2010 and he has shown that even a young player like us can win and do great in major tournaments.  That is my goal.”

“Today’s match is finished and I’m already focusing tomorrow’s match. I’m highly energized so I apologize if I’m wearing a scary face today,” Tago opened up during the post-match press conference.

“The Japan Open is the Super Series that I really want to win, so much so that sometimes the feeling is hard to contain it negatively affects my game.  I think it is very important to control my emotions. In the first game, I was winning 9-2 but I lost 8 points, and that was bad.  When the score reached 9-5, I should have done something to reserve the momentum.

“Tomorrow it will probably be against Lee Chong Wei. I need to think about what to do when I go up against him.

“This is an Olympic qualifying year. I feel a bit impatient because I haven’t been winning.  I made good results last year but even if I am not winning this year, my goal is always to win.  I don’t know when good results will come out but I want to do my best.”

The other remaining Japanese contender in men’s singles, Takuma Ueda, went up against China’s Chen Long (pictured above).  The third game came to an even 19 apiece but Chen produced the last two points to win the match, making Takuma one of three local hopefuls on the day to let a deciding game slip away 19-21.

“Although I wanted to win, in a match this close, anybody can win,” said Takuma Ueda (pictured left) after the game.

Former World Champion and Chinese coach Xia Xuanze said, “Chen Long’s tactics didn’t go well today.  Ueda played really well today and I think he has a lot of potential.  He is one of players to watch out for in the future.”

Korea’s ‘Play for Fun’ irregular pairing

Fresh from an upset win over 2nd-seeded Danes Mathias Boe / Carsten Mogensen yesterday,  the Japanese men’s doubles pair Naoki Kawamae / Shoji Sato took on Korea’s Lee Yong Dae / Ko Sung Hyun (photo).  For this event, the Koreans had assembled an irregular men’s doubles pairing to “relax and just enjoy the games.  But we are still aiming for the Olympics with our regular partners!” explains Lee Yong Dae.

Japanese National Team coaches admitted that the Korean pair had “high class serves”.  The Korean pair managed to freely change their serve timing and target and this troubled the Japanese pair.  Since they mixed up their men’s doubles pairs, already ranked 2nd and 4th in the world, there was no pressure at all and the Korean ‘irregular’ pair sailed smoothly through out the match, winning 21-16, 21-15.

“Today we freely played how we wanted to play,”, said Lee Yong Dae.

“The pairing was good!” Ko added to Yong Dae’s comments.

Wang Xin again

Women’s singles #3 Wang Xin faced WR19 Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying in a dangerous second round match today.  Having been in the semi-finals of the Japan Open for 2 consecutive years, Wang Xin (pictured below with her coach Zheng Bo after her match) was expected to win but the 17-year-old from Chinese Taipei – who came up just short last week against Wang Shixian – denied the other Wang this time with a 3-game upset 13-21, 21-16, 22-20.

“I was not in good condition today,” Wang Xin briefly commented after the match.  The young Taiwan already won against Wang Xin in this year’s Indonesia Open so it doesn’t come as a surprise for Wang to lose.

“I’ve been in Super Series finals before but today I didn’t have any pressure so I just played my usual,” Tai said after the match.  “I have always been erratic but today I was able to stay more stable and in control of my shots.

“I’ve won twice against Wang Xin but I still haven’t got the knack of it.  I am still developing my skills and play my best in each match.”

Click here for complete results

If you are to visit Tokyo for the Japan Open, you should stay in our partner hotel, the Chisun Grand Akasaka, a classy and modern hotel just a few minutes away from the venue, the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium. Click HERE to find out more about our partner hotel.

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