JAPAN OPEN QF – More Japanese women in the spotlight!

After days of headline matches in women’s singles, last home doubles pair Shizuka Matsuo / Mami Naito with a nail biting finish to a marathon quarter-final. By Emzi Regala, Badzine […]

After days of headline matches in women’s singles, last home doubles pair Shizuka Matsuo / Mami Naito with a nail biting finish to a marathon quarter-final.

By Emzi Regala, Badzine Correspondent live in Tokyo.  Photos:  Badmintonphoto (live)

Not only did the sun finally decide to shine upon the gloomy Tokyo sky, but Japanese women shuttlers shone as bright in front of the fans who flocked to the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium.  The delighted crowd cheered loudly applauding good rallies by all players, regardless of nationality.  Yet the biggest cheers went to their women’s pair Shizuka Matsuo / Mami Naito, who delivered a great performance that was almost, but not quite, matched by their Korean opponents Jang Ye Na / Lee So Hee (pictured), as the spectators were on the edge of their seats.

“As we did not go on court yesterday [because of the walkover], it was difficult to adjust in the first game but we both slowly adapted to the match,” said Naito afterward. “It was very tough but we are very happy with the result.  We feel good about how we played today.”

Naito/Matsuo will next have the tall order of getting past tall opponents Pedersen/Rytter Juhl in tomorrow’s semi-final.  Meanwhile, Korea still has one semi-final entry as Chae Yoo Jung and Kim So Yeong (pictured) recorded the biggest upset in their mere six months as a pair.

Korea is in the unusual position of having no women’s doubles pairs in the world’s top ten but they have seen some impressive results from a number of their pairs this week.  Today’s was one of the most impressive as Chae and Kim beat China’s world #2 Luo Ying / Luo Yu in straight games.

World Championship hangovers

Local stars Hiroyuki Endo / Kenichi Hayakawa (pictured), who were vocally disappointed about their performance in the semi-finals of the recently held World Championships, promised to give their best to advance further in this tournament, to make up for that heart-breaking loss in Jakarta.  After beating the Koreans Kim Ki Jung / Kim Sa Rang in two games 21-11, 21-18, the two men admitted that they are already mentally preparing for their semi-final match.

“Our defense was very good today, and we were able to direct the rally so I could get in front and control the net,” said Hayakawa.  “Since we lost in the semi-finals of the World Championships, we are very much motivated now to really do better.  That is why we will immediately talk about our strategy to prepare for tomorrow’s match.

The newly re-crowned World Champions from Indonesia Mohammad Ahsan / Hendra Setiawan, though, were nowhere their top calibre, losing to the Chinese 5th seeds Fu Haifeng / Zhang Nan in two games.

“We’ve lost three times before to Fu/Zhang and so we experimented a lot in the first game, but in the second we switched back to our regular play style,” said Setiawan after the match.  “Unfortunately it was a bit too late.”

Three of three for Denmark

Danish shuttlers have lots of reasons to celebrate, and did they ever share their joy with the crowd!  The Europeans were three of three in the quarter-finals, with women’s doubles Christinna Pedersen / Kamilla Rytter Juhl (pictured) registering their maiden win over Asian Games gold medallists Maheswari/Polii in two games, 21-15 21-19.

Viktor Axelsen (pictured below) fought a hard battle against singles specialist Lee Dong Keun, two games that last 53 minutes.  Viktor celebrated victory by throwing his racket to the delighted crowd.

The last success came from Denmark’s mixed doubles gem Joachim Fischer Nielsen / Christinna Pedersen, who were outstanding in their shuttle placements, almost shutting down the attacking power play of Liu Cheng / Bao Yixin.  For the second time in one day, Pedersen managed to finally achieve the elusive victory over a pair that had hitherto proven unassailable.  In this case, it was the Danes’ first victory in six attempts.

As Fischer Nielsen excited fans by graciously signing autographs, the crowd began to entreat Pedersen to throw away her racket to celebrate, just as Viktor had done earlier.

Click here for complete quarter-final results

About Emzi Regala