June 11th World No. 1 Li Xuerui Crushes Defending Champion Akane Yamaguchi in 3 Sets
The second day of the Yonex Open Japan started at 10:00AM JST(Japanese Standard Time) at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium. There was a visitors queue waiting for the opening the door to the Gymnasium, which started to form it from 08:00AM, luckily despite the fact that Japan is in the midst of a rainy season, there were not raining over the visitors who are ready to flower their umbrellas when rain pours.
Today we had all the first round of 80 main draws for MS, WS, MD, WD and XD by using 5 courts. The matches were taken place in a timly manner, however we saw a lot of see-saw matches and the among 80 matches 35 matches went to the deciding game.
We, therefore are very hapy to see those fierce competitions in front of spectators who certainly enjoyed watching the matches. As you can see from this, the entire match schedule was delayed and one time the matches were started to play about 3 hours behind the scheduled time. The one of latest matches scheduled to start at 20:00PM was completed after 24:00Midnight.
Other than the matches we covered hereunder, Lee Chong Wei, Kenichi Tago (MS), Mohammad Ahsan/Hendra Setiawan, Lee Yong Dae/Yoo Yeon Seong and V Shem Goh/Boon Heong Tan (MD) went through 2nd round of the main draws.
Match report for Men's Singles
Chen Long(CHN) 21-16 / 21-18 Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk (THA)
This was the first match for World Rank No. 2 player Chen Long in YOJ 2014. His opponent was left-handed Thai player, Saensomboonsuk.
While Saensomboonsuk kept his effort, most of the game was spent defending, unable to hurt the World Rank No.2. Chen Long seemed to have no chance to attack as Saensomboonsuk was using lots of net shots and leaping smashes and patiently catching up after each defeated point. Nerveless Chen Long kept lead all through the match, with explosive physical strength and iron-tight defense. After the match, when asked the reason to attend to YOJ 2014 even between the big series of Thomas Cup and BCA Indonesia Open, Chen Long replied “We were thwarted our 6th straight victory of Thomas Cup by Japanese team. We came here to show our Chinese Team’s power in Japan.” Tomorrow he will battle against his teammate Gao Huan.
Lin Dan (CHN) 21-15 / 21-18 Song Xue (CHN)
This is a first time for both of Chinese players to fight against each other in the international tournament.
In the first game, Song was attacking aggressively, sharply focused on the game and delivering his steep straight and cross smashes flawlessly. Lin’s counter tactics was to return Song’s shots to the corner of the court. Although Song managed to score many points with his smashes, overall Lin’s performance was greater and he succeeded in forcing the opponent to move. The game ended at 21-15 score with total control from Lin’s side.
Using up most of his power, Song looked exhausted in the second game. Lin on the contrary kept his pace calmly throughout the game. Despite of several attempts from Song’s side to catch up, series of aggressive attacks in the end of the game were not enough. Lin defeated Song at 21-18 in the second game.
Jan O Jorgensen (DEN) 13-21 / 22-20 / 21-12 Kento Momota (JPN)
Jan O Jorgensen (BWF rank No.3) from Denmark, the champion at French Open 2013, defeated Japanese young rising star Kento Momota (BWF rank No.11).
The first game started with Momota being behind Jan O with 2-8 score. However Japanese player displayed brilliant attacks with steep smashes, resulting in earning 7 consecutive points from 8-11 to 15-11 through the interval. After that, he succeeded in reaching to the game point at 20-13 by only giving one point to his opponent. Finally he closed the first game at 21-13.
Momota was the favorite of the second game, leading 15-7 and the most fans seemed to expect him to win the match. However, experience of his opponent played well for Danish. World ranked third player gradually chased up Momota with aggressive smashes and got 8 consecutive points to reach 15-15. As Momota mentioned in the press conference “I was exhausted I could have won if I had had some points at this time”, this was because I lost this game. Although Momota gave his best, Jan O accelerated his pace more and closed second game 22-20.
In the deciding game, Jan O forced Momota to move with long fast services and drieven clear shots to the rear part of the court. Momota looked exhausted and tired, so it became difficult to earn points with his smashes. All his efforts at this point were accurately returned by Danish player. Jan O seem to rejuvinile and gain more strengh by the end of the game. He started again to move faster and finally closed this breathtaking game with 21-12 score.
Jan O mentioned at the mixed zone “I did not move well, so made many unforced errors in the first game. However, I caught up with Momota thanks to his mistakes. Momota is a talented player, so he will be stronger in the future.” Momota mentioned in the press conference “I shifted up in the second game, but Jan O was physically stronger than me. I have to improve my physical skills.”
Sho Sasaki (JPN) 9-21 / 21-14 / 21-17 Viktor Axelsen (DEN)
Sho Sasaki (BWF rank No.17) won a victory over Viktor Axelsen (BWF rank No.18), the rising star from Denmark.
Axelsen completely controlled the first game. With his sharp smashes Danish player could earn 12 consecutive points from 7-7 to 19-7. Moreover, thanks to many errors from Sasaki’s side, Axelsen closed the first game at 21-9.
The second game, on the contrary, started in a very different manner. This time players switched roles with Sasaki leading 7-0 and forcing Axelsen to make series of mistakes. In spite of several unforced errors after the interval, Sasaki succeeded in the second game closing it at 21-14.
The deciding game was really exciting with both players expressing their strong smashes. Sasaki was skillfully and patiently returning sharp smashes from Axelsen’s side. Both players were fighting closely, but Sasaki accelerated the attacking speed, resulting in 4 consecutive points from 17-17 to the victory of this game at 21-17.
Sasaki mentioned at the mixed zone “I was overwhelmed in the first game, but I focused on the second one not to make unforced errors. As a result, I won the match thanks to the opponent’s mistakes.”
Marc Zwiebler 18-21 / 21-13 / 21-8 Srikanth K
During the game, both players expressed very high skills of soft return to net and net play. Srikanth won first game rather calmly. In the second game, Srikanth led till 12-10, but with easy mistakes after a long rally from Srikanth’s side changed the face of this game. Zwiebler earned four and seven consecutive points to close second game. Srikanth started the final game looking a little exhausted, which led to making several unforced errors. Zwiebler didn’t miss the opportunity and scored four consecutive points twice. Navigating through the game with his wonderful shots, Zwiebler closed the match with eight consecutive points.
Match report for Women's Singles
Xin Liu (CHN) 21-11 / 14-21 / 21-16 Ratchanok Intanon(THA)
The first game started by both players displaying excellent receives and footwork skills. Each rally was exhaustingly long but both players were moving efficiently from corner to corner, delivering wide range of different shots. Surprisingly after the first interval, Intanon started making series of errors. Her smashes went out of sideline and that benefited her Chinese opponent. Game closed at 21-11, Liu wining.
In the second game, Thai player gained her focus and sharp play, leading the score to 18-10. Scoring 3 consecutive points as well as 4 consecutive points twice, at this points spectators were having high expectations for Intanon’s victory. Although both of players didn’t change their shooting way or strategy but thanks to Liu’s unforced error Ratchanok closed the game at 21-14.
In the deciding game, Ratchanok started aggressively, using many high lobbing shots to Liu’s back side corners. It was very close game but Liu got the interval 11-10. After the interval Ratchanok seemed exhausted and made many unforced errors, while Liu kept focused on the game, earning continuous points from 10 to 15. Ratchanok tried to catch up but Liu always kept leading by some points until 20-13. From this point Ratchanok showed her mental strengths and professional abilities. Despite the gap in the score, she continued fighting fearlessly, getting continuous points from 13 to 16. Liu closed the last game at 21-16.
Li Xuerui (CHN) 17-21 / 21-19 / 21-18 Akane Yamaguchi(JPN)
Breathtaking from the very beginning, this was a true battle, where Japanese promising star Akane Yamaguchi (winner of Yonex Japan Open 2013) was close to upsetting world rank No.1 player Li Xuerui. Drawing attention and support of nearly all spectators, Yamaguchi made a handsome lead in the first game. Things started to change after 20-12, Xuerui’s play became more aggressive and she could quickly catch up with the Japanese player by earning 5 consecutive points to 20-17. Nevertheless Yamaguchi continued her offensive tacticks and closed the game at 21-17.
However world champion Xuerui never let a 17 year-old young Japanese an easy victory. From 2nd game, Xuerui expertly changed her gears and both players forced each other to chase shuttles from court to court with their excellent footsteps and court craft. There were no easy points except for several service errors from Yamaguchi side. Xuerui finished the second game at 21-19. Final game became a chase as well. Possibly the turning point was when Xuerui succeeded in challenging call at 10-9, right before the change end. After that moment, Xuerui seemed to accelerate her speed and overcome Yamaguchi with fierce and crisp attacking shots. Until the very last moment the match was unpredictable but Xuerui edged Yamaguchi, 21-18.
After the game, Xuerui said “Yamaguchi is a good player to perform in Japanese classical style to defend patiently. It was not difficult to beat her. But I was well prepared and believed that I could win. ” Yamaguchi said, “I think I could play nicely today. It was enjoyable game and I got confidence that I could catch up her speed.”
Carolina Marin(ESP) 21-11 / 21-16 against Minatsu Mitani(JPN)
From the very beginning of the game Carolina Marin(BWF rank No.11) displayed high skilled playing techniques with strong smashes and light footwork. Reaching to the interval with 11-1 Marin went further to lead with 18-7 score. Minatsu Mitani(BWF rank No.13) applied the strategy to use sharp smashes to her opponent’s left side corner. Nevertheless, Marin kept efficient lead and finished first game scoring 21-11.
In the second game, Mitani seemed to try to encourage herself with big voice and she had fought with greater endurance. Japanese player shifted her strategy and started to use higher lobbing. In response to Mitani`s new strategy, Marin also started using same shots as Mitani adding sharp smashes to both sides of the corner. By adopting this strategy, Marin has succeeded in earning 5 consecutive points from 4-6 to 9-6. Mitani caught up with Marin at 11-11, but Marin earned 4 consecutive points from 13-12 to 17-12 that seemed to have decided the game. Finally, Marin closed the game at 21-16 with her aggressive spirit. Unforced errors by Mitani helped the Spanish player to score the victory.
Match report for Mixed Doubles
Hayakawa & Matsutomo (JPN) 21-10 / 22-20 Prapakamol & Thoungthongkam (THA)
This was a challenging start of the first day of 1st round with a game of world rank No.19 Japanese pair against world rank No.7 Thai pair.
As soon as Hayakawa/Matsutomo started walking on the court, they concentrated on keeping fierce attacks and successfully making an easy win at 21-10. However in the early stages of the second game, the match ensured an electric atmosphere as Prapakamol/Thoungthongkam burst with intense and fierce attacks, forcing Japanese pair to perform defensively. Following long tough rallies, Prapakamol/Thoungthongkam reached 20-17 and they seemed to close the game. Spectators got to enjoy fabulous badminton from both pairs as breathtaking part started right after this moment. Hayakawa/Matsutomo never lost their focus and goal to win, concentrating on creating openings with patience and precise craftsmanship. Keeping the opponent off the balance, they managed to earn 5 consecutive points and won the game at 22-20. After the match, Matsutomo said “We were lucky because Prapakamol/Thoungthongkam made lots of unforced errors. Hayakawa’s advice at the final phase was so effective. I could change my defensive play to aggressive one. This triumph will help a lot to make a good start of this tournament.”
Michael Fuchs & Birgit Michels (GER) 21-19 / 21-14 Robert Blair & Imogen Bankier (SCO)
This match, both pairs of mixed doubles were from Europe. Spectators could enjoy a little different play style of mixed doubles. Both pairs used mainly over the head and round the head drive-receive technique against opponent’s smashes. At the same time we could see mixed soft returns to net as well. After showing beautiful rallies, German pair won the match thanks to their superior offence power.
Chris & Gabrielle Adcock (ENG) 17-21 / 21-8 / 21-15 Kenta.Kazuno & Yui.Miyauchi (JPN)
First game proceeded evenly until 14-14 both pairs exchanging powerful passes, shortly after, Japanese pair sped up their pace and finished at 21-17. Second game also started close to 5-5, but after that English pair did a good job of channeling their focus and taking control over the rest of the game. By accelerating their offence, with Chris’s smashes followed by Gabriel’s net shots, earned 8 and 7 consecutive points to close the game.
Final game proceeded with very close score as if both sides were chasing each other,until England’s pair powerful break through to lead at 11-9. However, again after that, England pair got five consecutive points to 16-11 with well controlled placement including beautiful soft touched pushes to net area. They closed match by quick push of service return 21-15.