JAPAN OPEN 2016 Finals – Post-Olympic payback for Danes

It was sweet revenge for Denmark’s Christinna Pedersen / Kamilla Rytter Juhl, as they dealt a home court defeat against the Japanese opponents they lost to at last month’s Rio […]

It was sweet revenge for Denmark’s Christinna Pedersen / Kamilla Rytter Juhl, as they dealt a home court defeat against the Japanese opponents they lost to at last month’s Rio Olympics gold medal match.

Story: Emzi Regala & Miyuki Komiya, Badzine correspondents live in Tokyo.
Photos: Yves Lacroix & Raphael Sachetat / Badmintonphoto (live)

As the world #1 and 2014 champions, Japan’s Ayaka Takahashi / Misaki Matsutomo (pictured below) would have been the heavy favourites for today’s women’s doubles final even if they hadn’t beaten their Danish opponents last month in the gold medal match in Rio.  But beyond just beating the top seeds, what made this victory for Christinna Pedersen / Kamilla Rytter Juhl (pictured left) even sweeter was that it was done in front of the Japanese fans at home.

Just like in Rio, the battle was as much mental as it was physical, players disagreeing on changing the shuttle and trying to disrupt each other’s rhythm on receiving serve.  But unlike in Rio, Takahashi/Matsumoto failed to come back from behind and bowing in 3 games, including a rather one-sided decider.

“I’d like to say sorry for beating your local heroes.  It was a tough semi-final yesterday and to perform like this in the finals against the Olympic gold medallists is a proud moment for me,” said a smiling Rytter Juhl apologetically to the audience, who in turned answered with loud appreciative applause.

“It’s been very difficult since the Olympics.  Back in Denmark, we had to go through ceremonies and all.  After a week’s rest, we went back to practice but it is mentally very tough.  I can’t believe that we won this title, our first at the Japan Open,” added Pedersen.

The Danish pair admitted that they reviewed the Rio match to prepare and discovered areas they thought they could utilize against the Olympic champions.  They said that there is no long-term plan yet, but for sure to celebrate at Nobu, their favourite Japanese restaurant, before they board the plane for Seoul for the Korean Open.

Takahashi and Matsutomo, on the other hand, said that they are actually relieved that the tournament is over.  They are relieved that they reached the final without any injury.

“I hope to defeat them in front of their home crowd next time at the Denmark Open,” added Takahashi.

In men’s singles, Lee Chong Wei made sure that the day would not completely fall in favour of the underdogs.  Bagging his unprecedented 6th Japan Open title, Malaysia’s Dato showed his fans that he is still hungry for titles, stopping Jan Jorgensen (pictured) in 3 games.  Lee thanked his fans and his sponsor Yonex for the non-stop support and promised that at least until next year’s World Championships he will take good care of his physical condition to sustain his best chance of victory.

Three titles somehow re-assured Chinese fans that there is a sufficient pool of fresh talents who are ready to fill the shoes vacated by the recent retirements.  The first of a trio of first-time Superseries winners, Li Junhui / Liu Yuchen started the medal haul by totally dominating their Korean opponents Kim Gi Jung / Ko Sung Hyun, winning the men’s doubles final in under 40 minutes.

Ko Sung Hyun returned to the court for a mixed doubles match with Kim Ha Na against Zheng Siwei and Chen Qingchen (pictured bottom), but the Korean 1st seeds made a lot of unforced errors and quickly succumbed to the Chinese teenagers, who went one better than their runner-up finish at the last Superseries event, the Australian Open, whose winners they had already bested in the semi-finals.

Finally, an all Chinese women’s singles finals saw yet another 19-year-old, He Bingjiao (pictured right), emerge triumphant against her higher ranked team-mate Sun Yu.   She was the only one of the fifteen finalists on the day who was playing in her first ever Superseries final.

“I cannot believe that I won, I’m very excited about this,” said He Bingjiao, who explained that finding oneself behind – in her case, facing a 0-7 deficit in the final game – one needs to realize that there has to be a problem, and to overcome that one must think hard what it is and then fix it.

All of the winners are slated to play in next week’s Korea Open as the Superseries continues for a second straight week, but the women’s doubles runners-up will be taking a break, while the men’s doubles runners-up will be changing partners when they cross the sea.

Final results
MD:  Li Junhui / Liu Yuchen (CHN) [8] beat Kim Gi Jung / Ko Sung Hyun (KOR) [7]  21-12, 21-12
WD:  Christinna Pedersen / Kamilla Rytter Juhl (DEN) [2] beat Misaki Matsutomo / Ayaka Takahashi (JPN) [1]  19-21, 21-18, 21-12
MS:  Lee Chong Wei (MAS) [1] beat Jan O Jorgensen (DEN) [3] 21-18, 15-21, 21-16
WS:  He Bingjiao (CHN) [8] beat Sun Yu (CHN) [7]  21-14, 7-21, 21-18
XD:  Zheng Siwei / Chen Qingchen (CHN) [7] beat Ko Sung Hyun / Kim Ha Na (KOR) [1]  21-10, 21-15

Click here for detailed results


About Emzi Regala