CANADA OPEN 2017 SF – Kanta, Kento, and Korean teens with the upsets

Kanta Tsuneyama beat former champion Lee Hyun Il to book a final matchup with comeback kid Kento Momota while Korea’s youngsters took down the top seeds as 18-year-old Kim Won […]

Kanta Tsuneyama beat former champion Lee Hyun Il to book a final matchup with comeback kid while Korea’s youngsters took down the top seeds as 18-year-old Kim Won Ho goes for a doubles double.

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

Saturday in Calgary was not the first Kanta Tsuneyama (pictured top) had come to North America and ended up facing former world #1 Lee Hyun Il in the latter stages of a badminton tournament.  It was, however, the first time for him to beat the experienced Korean.

Last summer, it was Lee who got the better of the young Japanese player.  That time, they were playing in the final of the U.S. Open Grand Prix Gold and Lee ended up becoming the first 36-year-old to win a major singles title.  This time, it was Tsuneyama who dominated the second game 21-8 and that was how he forced the deciding game that he would also win, to clinch his place in the final.

The other semi-final also featured an upset on paper.  Kento Momota (pictured), who is without a world ranking having gone more than 15 months without competing internationally, 13 of those without competing at all.  He had little trouble disposing of compatriot Kenta Nishimoto in straight games.

The other big upset on semi-finals day came in the men’s doubles.  Korea’s Seo Seung Jae and Kim Won Ho, playing in only their second tournament together (not including one match at the Sudirman Cup) ousted top seeds Lu Ching Yao and Yang Po Han, edging the Chinese Taipei pair 22-20 in the second game.

18-year-old Kim Won Ho (pictured) is the youngest and least experienced player due on court on Sunday, but by the time of the men’s doubles final, he will be playing his second career Grand Prix final.  He and Shin Seung Chan dropped their first game against Kohei Gondo and Wakana Nagahara but finished their mixed doubles semi-final strong with a pair of 21-10 games.

Kim is thus the only one of the four players involved in two semi-finals each to succeed in booking spots in both finals.  His partner Seo, his mixed opponent Nagahara, and his team-mate Chae Yoo Jung each booked spots in one final only.

The other men’s doubles finalists will be the only Grand Prix Sunday rookies.  England’s Peter Briggs / Tom Wolfenden (pictured) beat fellow Grand Prix semi-final first-timers Choi Hyuk Gyun / Park Kyung Hoon in three games.  In hindsight, the win was what would prevent a second all-Korean final for Sunday.

In the last match of the day, it was discovered that Chae Yoo Jung would also fail to appear in two finals on Sunday.  Chae and Choi Sol Gyu beat compatriots Seo/Kim to reach their first mixed final together in nearly two years.  However, she and Kim So Yeong were coming off their second Grand Prix Gold victory in women’s doubles, at the Chinese Taipei Open, but they became the second fancied Korean victims for Japan’s Chisato Hoshi / Naru Shinoya.

With the win, Hoshi became the only female player to book a spot in the first Grand Prix final of her career.  Her partner Shinoya had two Grand Prix Gold runner-up finishes in 2015 with former partner Ayane Kurihara.  Their opponents will be Shinoya’s successors as U.S. Open runners-up, Mayu Matsumoto / Wakana Nagahara.  All four players are looking for their first major tournament title.

The only other final that will not be contested between compatriots is also the only other one that features talent from Europe, and specifically the British Isles.  Kirsty Gilmour beat out Korea’s Jeon Joo I and kept alive her hopes for a first major title since 2015.  Since being runner-up in Malaysia last year, she has been in two European Championship finals but this is her first actual Grand Prix final in nearly a year and a half.

Finals line-up
XD:  Choi Sol Gyu / Chae Yoo Jung (KOR) [1] vs. Kim Won Ho / Shin Seung Chan (KOR)
WD:  Mayu Matsumoto / Wakana Nagahara (JPN) [6] vs. Chisato Hoshi / Naru Shinoya (JPN)
WS:  Kirsty Gilmour (SCO) vs. Saena Kawakami (JPN)
MS:  Kanta Tsuneyama (JPN) [6] vs. Kento Momota (JPN)
MD:  Peter Briggs / Tom Wolfenden (ENG) [8] vs. Kim Won Ho / Seo Seung Jae (KOR)

Click here for complete semi-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 @