WORLDS 2015 QF – Japan starts with two wins in quarters

Quarter-finals day began on Friday at the BWF World Badminton Championships with two wins for Japan, courtesy of Kento Momota and Cinderella story Fukuman and Yonao. By Don Hearn, Badzine […]

Quarter-finals day began on Friday at the BWF World Badminton Championships with two wins for Japan, courtesy of Kento Momota and Cinderella story Fukuman and Yonao.

By Don Hearn, Badzine Correspondent live in Jakarta.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

Japan will head into the weekend with at least two semi-finalists at the BWF World Badminton Championships.  Naoko Fukuman and Kurumi Yonao (pictured) were among the last to book their quarter-final spots on Thursday evening but nearly 10 hours after finishing their 89-minute marathon victory over Luo Ying and Luo Yu, they were back on court.

Their opponents were another of the pairs who perpetrated major upsets in women’s doubles on Thursday.  Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa (pictured below) were a little slow starting but they came back and saved four game points before finally letting the Japanese take the first game 26-24.  The Indians were never really in the second game and in the end, they were unable to beat a second Japanese pair in a row.

“We didn’t feel any pressure because Matsutomo/Takahashi and Maeda/Kakiiwa are senior to us on the team,” said Naoko Fukuman after the match.  “Everyone is just happy as a team that we made it to the semi-finals.

“Even though we are the last Japanese team left, we don’t feel pressure.  We just think that if we can make it to the next level, it will be even better for Japanese women’s doubles, it will make us really happy.”

“We feel like yesterday was some kind of turning point.  We had already lost twice to Luo and Luo so we felt that if we could win this match, then maybe we could reach the next level, maybe get a medal, maybe make it to the Olympics.  So we both had a very special feeling before even getting into it.

“Being World Champion is of course a target but it’s a little bit far.  But still, if we can get a little different colour medal, we can make our supporters happier.”

“I too think it might be a little ambitious so I think we should just take it one step at a time,” added Yonao.  “Then, if we can stick to our own playing style, then we can reach to that higher level.”

Kento Momota (pictured below) also played in the first match of the day, taking centre stage against Wei Nan.  Wei was the one who had upset home favourite Tommy Sugiarto earlier in the week but he was unable to pull off a similar surprise against the Indonesia Open champion.

The twenty-year-old Momota waltzed to the win in just 37 minutes, which put him in a position to face Chen Long or Viktor Axelsen in the semi-finals.  As it turned out, Momota was the first of three men’s singles favourites to win before mid-afternoon, if one counts Lee Chong Wei, whose victory over Hu Yun was actually an upset on paper.

“I didn’t treat this event like a special case, but rather just like any other tournament,” said Kento Momota after his win.  “One difference, though, is that I won the Indonesia Open the last time I was here so I got the motivation from the Indonesian spectators.

“Chen Long is the superior player.  His defense, his power, in every aspect, he is better than me.  I have to focus on what I have to do.  Even then, it will only be 60-40 or 70-30 in Chen Long’s favour so I have to wait for when Chen Long is a bit on the defensive. That’s a slight chance for me.”

Asked about the support he seemed to be getting, particularly among female fans in Jakarta, Momota said, “I think the support I get from the female fans in Indonesia is much bigger than what I get in Japan.  I think that is a motivating factor for me.”

He will need all the support and motivation he can get as he goes after his first ever victory over defending champion Chen Long in the semi-finals on Saturday.

Click here for complete quarter-final 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 @