OLYMPICS Day 6 – Women’s doubles gold to get a new home!

After five straight Olympic women’s doubles badminton golds for China, Christinna Pedersen and Kamilla Rytter Juhl made sure there would be no sixth as they ousted Beijing winner Yu Yang […]

After five straight Olympic women’s doubles badminton golds for China, Christinna Pedersen and Kamilla Rytter Juhl made sure there would be no sixth as they ousted Beijing winner Yu Yang and talented rookie Tang Yuanting in a photo finish semi-final.

By Don Hearn.  Photos: Yves Lacroix for Badmintonphoto (live)

After Korea took one, China embarked on a string of five gold medal performances in Olympic women’s doubles as the two teams seemed to have a lock on both gold and silver until the London disaster.  This time, though, the top Korean and Chinese pairs were both simply outclassed by the seasoned partnerships from Denmark and Japan who will play for the gold on Thursday.

Christinna Pedersen and Kamilla Rytter Juhl (pictured) more or less had their way with the world #2 pair in the first game and they took the one-game lead largely without incident.  In the second, though, Tang Yuanting / Yu Yang got out to a commanding 17-10 lead and the Europeans couldn’t put together any type of comeback.

The Danes came out firing in the deciding game and again controlled the rallies on their way to an 11-4 lead at the interval.  They then seemed to lose their focus a little and the Chinese took 5 of the next 6 points, mostly on shorter rallies.

The European underdogs opened their lead back up twice but the match just wouldn’t cooperate and end as quickly as Christinna Pedersen hoped it would.  Her serve at quintuple match point was called short and she stopped herself in mid exaltation to challenge the call.

Little did she know, but the game was still far from over as the Chinese embarked on a worrying 4-point run before the Danes won the attack at 20-19 and refused to let their opponents get back in the rally and they finally snapped the shuttle down between Tang and Yu to snatch the victory.

Top seeds get back the advantage

London’s women’s doubles event was already part of a new trend.  The match-throwing fiasco might have guaranteed that a third nation would finally be represented in an Olympic women’s doubles final, after Korea and China had had a lock since 1992.  However, while Fujii/Kakiiwa certainly earned their silver, it is clear that hopes are even higher in Rio for Japan’s first ever Olympic gold.

World #1 Misaki Matsutomo / Ayaka Takahashi (pictured above) were already having a phenomenal year even before they boarded the plane for Rio.  They have won three Superseries titles, in addition to the Asian Championships and the Malaysia Masters Grand Prix Gold.

Jung Kyung Eun and Shin Seung Chan (pictured) came into their Olympic semi-final having won their only two encounters with Matsutomo/Takahashi since the Koreans began their pairing in earnest last summer.  But whatever edge they had at the Uber Cup and at last year’s Denmark Open was not in evidence on the court in Rio.

The Koreans displayed their usual hard-hitting game and it was enough to produce an early lead but the Japanese world #1s quickly caught them at 6-all and had moved in front by the first mid-game interval.  Hard though their smashes were, the Koreans seemed to lack the speed or the will to follow up by taking the shuttle above the tape at the net.

Matsutomo and Takahashi, meanwhile, played their usual, fantastic defense but they also made the most of all the attacking opportunities that came from the Koreans lifting most of the time when the Japanese returned smashes short.  Matsutomo in particular played a solid, patient game and pounced time and again on loose replies at the net.

The match was over in less than an hour and the Japanese can now look forward to a twelfth encounter with Pedersen/Rytter Juhl.  They are the only top ten pairs in Rio who have played each other more than ten times and although the Danes haven’t beaten the top seeds in over two years, they played a very close match with them in India earlier this year and both pairs will be incredibly fired up for the final.

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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 @ badzine.net