JAPAN OPEN 2014 R16 – 3-time champ Wang Yihan stopped cold

Women’s singles continued to serve up the upsets, this time brought by Sayaka Takahashi beating Wang Yihan in straight games, to the delight of the local crowd. By Yusuke Higuchi […]

Women’s singles continued to serve up the upsets, this time brought by Sayaka Takahashi beating Wang Yihan in straight games, to the delight of the local crowd.

By Yusuke Higuchi and Miyuki Komiya, Badzine Correspondents live in Tokyo.  Photos: Yves Lacroix for Badmintonphoto (live)

Sayaka Takahashi (pictured below) brought good news for Japan on Day 3 of the 2014 Yonex .  With Ratchanok Intanon having lost last day, Sayaka Takahashi from Japan pulled off an even bigger upset by beating Wang Yihan, the no.2 seed from China, by 21-13, 21-16.  Wang Yihan (pictured left) is a three-time winner at the Japan Open and her first title, way back in 2008, was actually the very first in her stunning list of Superseries victories that is now up to 20.

“Wang looked nervous, while I wasn’t,” said Takahashi after the match.  “I’m happy because I lost the match against her at Hong Kong Open last year.  I keep on challenging to good opponents at this tournament.”

Sayaka’s company coach and former national team singles player Yu Hirayama told Badzine, “Sayaka played well today.  She was able to keep moving a lot and moving fast from start through to the end of the match.  Wang Yihan is great player.  Sayaka just focused on playing her best without feeling nervous.

“One good point was that Sayaka defended well.  It allowed her to keep pace in the rallies.”

At the next stage, Takahashi will face Tai Tzu Ying from Chinese Taipei, another player who won the first Superseries title of her career in Japan.

In other action, no. 1 seed Li Xuerui safely passed to the quarter-final by beating Eriko Hirose from Japan.  Li will be against Carolina Marin (pictured below) from Spain, who won the European Championships this year and beat the promising teenager Busanan Ongbamrungphan from Thailand today.

After her victory, Carolina said, “I will watch the video of today’s match and make a plan with my coach to win against Li Xuerui.”

Lee is back, looking for a first title

Lee Yong Dae is in Tokyo playing a Superseries tournament for the first time since the Malaysia Open 5 months ago, immediately following which he was suspended by the BWF in doping-related sanctions that have now been lifted.  The Japan Open is actually one of only three Superseries events that Lee has never won. Lee Yong Dae proceeds to the quarter-finals this week with his partner Yoo Yeon Seong (pictured below) by beating multinational pair Alvent Yulianto Chandra from Indonesia and Shintaro Ikeda from Japan by 21-13, 21-11.

“This hall is bigger than other halls in the Superseries.  I found it hard to keep my concentration due to the crown and the strong draught,” Lee Yong Dae said after the match.  “We focussed on our defence this time and trained a lot for it.  The training was what produced our win.”

“I felt they hadn’t trained after their leaving their national teams,” Yoo Yeon Seong added.  “Actually, we were a bit nervous because Alvent and Shintaro are a new pair.  We expected them to come at us with strong attacks, but they didn’t.”

The biggest obstacle to the Koreans winning a Superseries title for the first time since the Hong Kong Open 7 months ago may again be Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan from Indonesia, whom they are expected to meet in the final.

Many players suffered from the strong draught, but some men’s singles seeds were able to adjust and control the shuttle well as they wanted.  Top seeded Lee Chong Wei found it easy to manage his first game against Germany’s Marc Zwiebler (pictured below) but then the strong tailwind made the second game hard for Chong Wei, while Zwiebler got the upper hand.

Marc jumped out to a good lead at 5-0 and kept it until Chong Wei caught him at 17-all.  The game stayed close right up until the 26 point mark when finally, Lee Chong Wei pulled ahead to take the game 28-26.

“I adjusted well hitting the shuttle against the wind, but it was so hard to manage with it at my back,” said Lee Chong Wei afterward.  “The second game became very close, but I was still able to stay calm and play.”

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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