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Stepping Up for the Main Draw: Champion Lin Dan's Pride and Defending Champion Akane Yamaguchi

Yonex Open Japan 2014 started today at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium. This Metlife BWF World Superseries will last until 15th of June.

Today qualifying matches took place here, including such players as Lin Dan, gold medalist in Beijin and London Olympic Games and BWF World Champion, Akane Yamaguchi, a Defending Champion of this tournament.

Please see the following match reviews.

Match report for Men's Singles

Daren Liew (MAS) 21-17 / 21-18 Thomas Rouxel (FRA)

The match between World Rank No. 60 and World Rank No. 78 began with a defensive posture of Dalen’s side. Concentrating on many tight net shots during the first game, Dalen switched his strategy for the second game, setting his position forward and aggressively making fierce attacks. It had been truly an arm-wrestle game and Rouxel had patiently chased shots and trailed the compatriot but regrettably closed the match with service fault.

Lin Dan (CHA) 12-21 / 21-19 / 21-7 Kazumasa Sakai (JPN)

Lin Dan (China) won 2-1 (12-21, 21-19, 21-7) against Kazumasa Sakai (Japan).

Lin Dan (BWF ranking No.35), the London Olympic 2012 champion, had to join the championship from the qualifying match due to his ranking. This was a second time for him to fight against his opponent, Kazumasa Sakai (BWF ranking No.47) since Badminton Asia Championship 2013.

Chinese World Rank No. 35 started nervously his first outing against a local player backed by the home crowd. In the first game, Lin was keeping the home position and making Sakai to move to the corner, especially his rear side. Sakai, however, received patiently and used Lin’s mistakes to score 5 consecutive points from 2-3 to 7-3. Followed by his sharp smashes, Sakai managed to close the first game at 21-12.

However the second game had very different dynamic comparing to the first one. From the very beginning Lin started to use many net shots and low lobbing to Sakai’s corner. Attacking aggressively, Lin made series of strong and steep cross smashes, which led him to earn 4 consecutive points twice. Despite of several miss shots at the end, Li calmly closed the set at 21-19.

The story continued at the final set as well, where Lin kept attacking with powerful smashes and his charming net shots. Sakai also made sharp smashes and kept strong receives, but couldn’t maintain it for long. Lin shifted up his gears and got 10 consecutive points from 11-7 to 21-7. The third set went his way in the blink of an eye.

Lin mentioned at the mixed zone “It was not easy to win this game because it took time to adjust my play. Although I’m looking forward to fight against Lee Chong Wei, I will win each game, one game at a time.”

Lin Dan (CHA) 21-18 / 21-15 Daren Liew (MAS).

Chinese player Lin Dan defeated Daren Liew (BWF ranking No.60) and continued his march to the next stage. Using the same techniques and strategy as at the final singles match of BWF Thomas Cup 2014 against Takuma Ueda (BWF ranking No.27), Daren used sharp and cut shots forcing Lin to lose point in the beginning of the first game. Lin, however, earned 5 consecutive points twice, due to his controlled lobbing shots and Daren’s missed smashes over the line, ending the first match in 21-18.

Lin seemed to test the condition of the Tokyo Metropolitan Stadium by using clear and lobbing shots, which we are surely going to see more during the upcoming matches. Both players showed excellent performance by continuous series of serving and receiving. Lin maneuvering his way ahead and using steep smashes from his forehand to opponent’s foreside and backside. Finally, Lin took over Daren at 21-15.

Some reporter mentioned that Lin did not seem to be giving his best. Lin replied at the mixed zone, “It is been a while for participating the tournament from the qualifying game, so I rechecked the wind and the atmosphere in the gymnasium.” Lin already began to prepare for the next match tomorrow.

Match report for Women's Singles

Yukino Nakai (JPN) 21-16 / 13-21 / 21-15 Aya Ohori (JPN)

Nakai showed very aggressive game and managed to keep her persistent returns against Ohori’s offence throughout the match. With the number of frustrating unforced errors, Ohori was pushed out of the court.

WS Haruko Suzuki (JPN) 2(21-15 21-12)0 Natsuki Nidaira (JPN)

Being last year’s runner up and winning against Uchida, there were high expectations for

Nidaira’s play.

But Suzuki overwhelmed her, playing very consistently, with precise placement and speed. Although Nidaira managed to catch up till 12-12 in the first game, Suzuki managed to raise her speed and pace up, closing game with 21-15 score. Second game was a rapid victory for Suzuki, by moving quickly and dominating the court, she didn’t leave any chance to Nidaira to win the game.

Akane Yamaguchi(JPN) 21-14 / 21-9 Anna Doi(JPN)

Despite being the winner of Yonex Open 2013, Akane Yamaguchi appeared today from the qualifying rounds, due to her 62nd position in BWF world raking.

All through the game, Yamaguchi gave no lead to Doi, employing the astonishing power play with excellent footwork and court craft. All that helped to outclass Doi in straight games.

Akane Yamaguchi(JPN) edged Yukino Nakai(JPN), 2-1(21-17,19-21,21-15)

This breathtaking battle was held between young Japanese players, 17 year-old Yamaguchi and 18 year-old Nakai.

Nakai, right after overcoming Ohori (world junior No.3 of 2014) had to face Yamaguchi, world junior No.1 of 2013 and 2014. Fighting her way through a three-set match with astonishing defense and tight net shuttles, Nakai was close to upsetting Yamaguchi. Both of players were required to spend longer time on court, which led Nakai and Yamaguchi to make unforced errors. Until the 10-10 in final game, when Yamaguchi, having endured tough rallies until changing end in final, managed to earn 4 consecutive points in a low to 14-10, and finally picked her pace to finish the match at 21-15.

Please do not miss the following matches tomorrow.

The first encounter between Li Xuerui, China,Gold Medalist at London Olympic Games and the current BWF ranked no.1 and Akane Yamaguchi , Japanese player, defending Champion of this tournament, BWF ranked No.62.

Jan O Jorgensen Denmark, Champion at French Open 2013, BWF ranked No.3 VS Kento Momota, Japanese player, BWF ranked No.11.

Lee Yong Dae / Yeon Seong Yoo, Korea, BWF ranked No.6 VS Anders Skaarup Rasmussen/Kim Astrup Sorensen, Denmark, BWF ranked No.22.

Yixin Bao /Jinhua Tang, China, current BWF ranked No.1 and Champions for Korea, Malaysia and India in 2014 VS Vita Marissa /Lejarsar Variella Aprilsasi Putri,
Indonesia BWF ranked No.31.

Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi, Japan current BWF ranked No.4 VS Xia Huan / Qianxin Zhong, China, current BWF ranked 84.

Sudket Prapakamol/Saralee Thoungthongkam, Thailand, current BWF ranked No.7 VS Kenichi Hayakawa/Misaki Matsutomo, Japanese pair, current BWF rank No.19.

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