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June 15th, Ayaka Takahashi/Misaki Matsutomo Achieve Long-Awaited Win in All-Japanese Final; Lee Chong Wei Captures An Unprecedented Fifth Title

Match report for Men's Singles

Lee Chong Wei (MAS) 21-14 / 21-12 Hu Yun (HKG)

Malaysian super star player Lee Chong Wei won the championships of YONEX OPEN JAPAN for 3rd consecutive year, which makes it 5th time for him to win this title. His opponent Hu Yun from Hong Kong has defeated WBF ranked number 2 player, Chen Long, and number 3, Jan O Jorgensen in this tournament.

Lee aggressively attacked from the early stages of the game, leading 6-1. He often displayed cross drop shots to the rear side of Hu's court to force his opponent to lob a shuttle leading to Lee's smashes. Lee waited for those shots and made decisive smashes, earning 4 consecutive points from 9-5 to 13-5 through the interval. To take back his pace, Hu adjusted his strategy and from this point started taking low drive shots rallies to lead with his sharp sky smashes. Hu looked more aggressive than usual, resulting in earning points but making mistakes at the same time. Lee quickly closed the first game at 21-14.

While Lee was carrying the game in the quick speed, we are used to see Hu usually playing in a rather slow pace. However, today Hu showed aggressive play as if he was adjusting his pace to Lee's one. Moreover, Hu displayed same net shots forcing the opponent only to lob as in the last game against Jan O Jorgensen. Thanks to these technical net shots, Hu earned points in his pace at first. However, Lee was able to consistently return his opponent's shots, in addition to delivering persistent smashes to Hu's fore side of the court. At 3-2 led by Lee, Hu showed super receives of the controlled shots to the corner, but Lee's offensive speed was quicker than Hu's defensive one. With 11 consecutive points in the last part of the game, Lee with his marvelous attacks put a period on this final match at 21-12, bringing the title of YONEX OPEN JAPAN 2014 to Lee Chong Wei.

In the press conference, Lee mentioned "The final match was easier than I expected. Today, I was attacking more aggressively not to let Hu's pace overtake me. I think this tactics was unexpected for Hu, so I could win. I will participate the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, so I want to show good performances for many fans in YONEX OPEN JAPAN in future."

Hu Yun mentioned at the mixed zone "Lee was stronger than me in the speed and attacks. The last match yesterday was very hard for me and still severe, so I could not follow Lee's pace in the second game. However, I'm very happy to be a finalist."

Match report for Women's Singles

Li Xuerui (CHN Rank No: 1) 21-16 / 21-6 Tai Tzu Ying (TPE Rank No: 7)

Both players played a good game during the half of the first game. Tai Tzu Ying from Taiwan was leading the scoreboard at the beginning of the match. Situation started to change dramatically after Tai started making several mistakes after the first half of the game. Li Xuerui was able to catch up with the score and began to lead the game after taking the 15th point. She snitched another 4 consecutive points from there and leaving Tai 19-15. The first game ended by Li's victory 21-16.

Keeping the momentum, Li was oppressing Tai's efforts from the start of the second game. This knocked down Tai's mentally. Li was collecting consecutive points one after another leaving Tai far behind 16-3. In the end, Li closed the game 21-6.

Asked about her loss in the mixed zone, Tai commented that she was realizing that she was making a lot of mistakes in the second half of the first game. "I became nervous after the first game and could not concentrate on the game. I knew that Li could read all of my play style, so I tried to come up with some new strategies. However, I could not execute them very well and went back to my old playing style." Li who participated in YOJ for the first time this year admitted that she is overwhelmed with her own victory. "The first game was tough for me due to Tai's lead, but slowly I got used to the flow of the game. I could feel that Tai was getting nervous so the second game became easier for me" admitted Li. Her next goals are to win Indonesia open 2014 and every other super series that she will participate in. During the award ceremony, Li took the opportunity to thanks her fans and those who have come all the way to watch YOJ final match.


Match report for Men's Doubles

Mohammad Ahsan & Hendra Setiawan (INA Rank No: 1) 12-21 / 24-26 Lee Yong Dae & Yoo Yeon Seong (KOR Rank No: 6)

First game suddenly started with a very high-paced play. Lee/Yoo pair earned 3 consecutive points only within 1 minute. Having this advantage, they kept pushing back Indonesian pair Ahsan/Hendra and never let them to control the court. It seemed that the training and strategy they prepared to face the Indonesian pair worked well. During the interview yesterday they said they would do a lot of image training to prepare against Indonesian champion pair. In the first second half of the game, Ahsan/Hendra pair was unable to return the shuttle well and had several mistakes near the net, letting their opponent pair to score 8 consecutive points and leaving them behind 20-11. Leading far ahead, Lee/Yoo won this game rather easily at 21-12.

The second game was superbly entertaining. Indonesian pair fought back fiercely. As revenge to the loss of the first game, they started second game with by overwhelming domination. At this moment it seemed as if they came up with precise strategy to counter measure Lee/Yoo's play. However, again Ahsan/Hendra lost their playing rhythm on the game point and forced to have a deuce. They were fiercely chasing each other, scoring one after another. In such situation, one single point is worth a million. This tense duel between both pairs entertained the whole stadium. In the end, being able to stay focused on the game and perform consistent play led Korean pair to win this game and made them the champions of this tournament.

Hendra/Ashan, who have been defeated by the Korean pair three times since last year, were able to take revenge last May at the Thomas Cup. Nevertheless, they had to accept yet another defeat, this time. After the match, Ahsan/Hendra commented that during the first game they were struggling to adjust their playing. They felt the shuttle speed was slower than they expected. Although we managed to keep out feet back on the second game, Lee/Yoo also played very well today. Their defense was very tight and on the top of it they did only few mistakes.

Lee/Yoo also commented "Although we could not show our best performance during Thomas Cup, our victory today has boosted our confidence and motivation to improve in the future". "Ahsan/Setiawan pair is well-known for their high concentration during the game. We are glad that we could respond to this well and stay focused until the very end".

Match report for Women's Doubles

Misaki Matsutomo / Ayaka Takahashi(JPN) 21-13 / 21-17 Miyuki Maeda / Reika Kakiiwa(JPN)

Last year's championship was remarkable with all-Japanese final match between Akane Yamaguchi and Shizuka Uchida. This time we could enjoy first-ever all-Japanese for Women's Doubles. Both pairs were eager to get the glory on their homeland. How to handle the pressure in gymnasium packed with Japanese spectators was one of the most important factors for both pairs.

With lots of loving cheers in the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium, Matsutomo/Takahashi pair started the first game with fierce attacking strokes forcing Maeda/Kakiiwa to perform defensively. Maeda/Kakiiwa seemed to be having a lot of pressure, hence they couldn't catch up with their opponent. Matsutomo/Takahashi closed the first game easily at 21-13.

As the second game started, in attempt to create a shift in disadvantageous situation, Maeda/Kakiiwa stepped aggressively forward to organize the up-and-back formation. This is the key technique for them to perform offensively in their usual game. However their opponents managed to build up truly iron-tight defense. However, with Matsumoto/Takahashi continuously returning Maeda/Kakiiwa's strokes with hard drives or net shots and always reversing the defensive phases to offensive ones, Maeda/Kakiiwa couldn't turn around the game to their lead. Although Maeda/Kakiiwa earned consecutive points from 2-2 to 2-6, 8-17 to 13-17 and 20-15 to 20-17, they were crashed at 21-17.

In the press interview, Matsutomo/Takahashi expressed "We are so happy that we could be the first Japanese pair to win Super Series championship title here in Japan. Today we were preparing ourselves to have a long game since our opponents are our teammates as well and we knew each other's techniques very well. We could perform well to keep our offensive play style and that worked effectively. Also we could maintain our target to occupy the position atop the podium through the match. In spite of having advanced to finals five times in Super Series in the past, we haven't won a title a single time. It was our goal to win in the Super Series since last year. Our final target is a gold medal of Olympic Games and we will push forward confidently toward our goal."

Maeda/Kakiiwa said in the press interview "It is first time for us to advance to the Super Series final and it was a great experience. However as far as today's game is concerned, we felt pressure from the beginning and we could not pick up our pace. Even in our offensive attacking play, Matsutomo/Takahashi's receiving was tight and we felt as if we were attacked instead. Our condition differs from game to game, so our next challenge is to achieve more stable results."

Match report for Mixed Doubles

Zhang Nan/Zhao Yunlei (China rank no.1) won 2-0 (21-12, 21-16) Michael Fuchs/Birgit Michels (Germany rank no.14)

With sharp, strong and precise shots all over the court, Chinese pair left their German opponents with only limited choice of shots. Zhang Nan/Zhao Yunlei scored constantly. Chinese pair proceeded throughout the game with a safety margin of points all the way to the end. German pair made many unforced errors including shots that went out the court or hit their own side of the net. German pair was giving out points to Chinese pair. They just were making a number of unforced errors, not being able to strike a killer shots. German pair could not even touch the shuttlecocks. Chinese Duo closed the 1st game at 21-12.

German pair did a good job and tried very hard to catch up with them from 12-9, 13-10, 15-11, 16-12, 18-13 and 20-14, however Chinese pair closed at 21-16 for Championship.

At the mixed zone interview, Michael Fuchs/Birgit Michels pair reviewed their fight against the Chinese pair today saying that they were unable to attack enough their opponent because they were forced to stay at rear part of the court. They reckoned that they played very hard today and could enjoy playing against Chinese pair as well. "Chinese pair extended very fast shuttles and their services were very difficult to return to the position where we aimed to place. It is because Chinese pair anticipated them very well in advance and actually they were always very prepared for our returns. "

Zhang Nan/Zhao Yunlei won this Championship today for the 3rd time and 2 years in a row.

Closing remarks

MetLife BWF World Superseries Yonex Open Japan 2014 closed today at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium.
We had 5 finals matches for MS, WS, MD, WD and XD starting from 14:00PM (JST) at fully packed Gymnasium.
Despite the fact that Japan is in the rainy season now and every year we have a lot of rain during this time of year, it is very fortunate that this year it did not rain a lot. Moreover, we had rather comfortable weather during the period of this tournament from June 10 to 15.
The first Victory at the Thomas Cup and the second place at the Uber Cup two weeks ago in India were recently widely publicized and broadcasted in Japan.
These two above triggered badminton funs to visit and see the world class play at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium. We probably had about 25,000 spectators during this Championship.

We would like to extend our sincere thanks for your visit to the Gymnasium and our website.
See you next year!! at YOJ 2015.

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