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June 12th, Sayaka Takahashi Topples World No.3 Wang Yihan; Japanese Ace Kenichi Tago Advances to Quarterfinals in 34 Minutes

Match report for Men's Singles

Lee Chong Wei (MAS) 21-13 / 28-26 Marc Zwiebler (GER)

Lee Chong Wei (BWF rank No.1) performed steady and rather comfortable play against Germany’s top player Marc Zwiebler (BWF rank No.12). During the first game, Lee succeeded in building up an iron wall and returning any possible shots from Zwiebler to the every corner of the court. Lee forced Zwiebler to move all over the court and displayed steep smashes at strategic points. Lee closed the first game easily at 21-13.

In the second game, Zwiebler seem to hold back and made a good start, leading with 5 consecutive points thanks to Lee’s miss net shots and smashes over the side line. Zwiebler was keeping some lead points all the time, but Lee caught up at 18-18 and then he grabbed the match point at 20-19. Nobody was expecting the fierce that was just about to start after this point. Zwiebler saved the match points 3 times at 19-20, 21-22 and 25-26. Lee also did the game points 4 times. Both players persistent return to force the opponent to lob and aggressively attacked, using technical cross-net shots and sky smashes. In the end, it was the physical strength that played a crucial role in the faith of this game. Zwiebler made a mistake; his moves were dulled due to severe exhaustion that resulted in the dramatic ending at 28-26.

Lee mentioned in the interview at the mixed zone “The first game was easy, but the second one was difficult due to the wind. However, I was not bad today, so I focused on each point even though I was behind at 13-7.”

Chen Long (China rank No.2) 21-17 / 21-15 Gao Huan (China rank No.45)

Chen Long perfectly dominated the match through the first game to the end of the second game.

Although Gao kept scoring as well, it looked more one sided game. Gao tried to stay focused on the game and to find the place where he can break through the situation. Such enormous effort from his side seemed to have paid off and giving him number of points he could actually score.

In the first game, Chen kept safety margin of points all the way to the game point and won the game at 21-17. In the second game, Gao led up until 9-8. However Chen didn’t let his opponent to score for too long, turning over the game at 11-10 at interval. Followed by 5 consecutive points to 15-10 Chen closed the game at 21-15.

Kenichi Tago (JPN) 21-9 / 21-6 Sourabh Varma (IND)

Kenichi Tago (BWF rank No.4) defeated Sourabh Varma (BWF rank No.36) from India with the comfortable margin in both games.

Tago started the first game in a relaxed manner, and kept earning points by easily returning Varma’s powerful smashes precisely to the corner. Tago got 5 consecutive points twice from 2-3 to 7-3 and from 9-6 to 14-6 by forcing Varma to make mistakes. Especially Varma’s returns over the line stood out. Tago completely controlled the first game from the beginning to the end, resulting in the score at 21-9.

Tago continuously displayed smart returns to the opponent’s court in the second game. Sometimes, Tago played uncomfortably due to the difficulties controlling the driven clears and lobbing shots, which were controlled by the wind in the gymnasium. Varma tried to follow Tago’s pace, but seemed impatient with not having used ideal shots, such as attacking smashes. As a result, Tago earned 7 and 6 consecutive points from 5-4 to 12-4 and from 15-6 to 21-6 of the victory of this game. Tago seemed still to have more energy and advanced to the quarter finals tomorrow.

Tago mentioned in the press interview “The last game (against Lee Dong Keun from Korea) was late at last night, but there was no problems about today’s match. In the international tournament, there is almost no difference of the strength among players. I’m glad to win this game today, but I will focus on the upcoming matches ahead.

Lin Dan (CHN) 21-14 / 21-14 Chong Wei Feng (MAS)

Lin Dan seemed to be in a good physical condition today facing his Malaysian opponent Chong Wei Feng (BWF rank No.24). Lin started the championship with testing several types of shots, such as clear, net and lobbing at the qualifying round and the first stage yesterday. Today, on the contrary, he was aggressively attacking with his favorite cross smashes from the fore side to the rear side of the opponent’s court. Moreover, his tricky spin net shots made Chong’s returns very difficult. Lin closed the first game at 21-14 with plenty of energy to start the next one.

In the second game, Chong looked devastated and desperate to turn the score to his side. Malaysian player started the game with number of daring attacks and straight smashes. Lin, however, returned them precisely to the front of Chong’s court, which forced Chong to lob to hit decisive smashes. Although Chong showed strong smashes to the near side line, Lin was really good at returning them by not going against Chong’s powerful shots. Lin earned 4 and 5 consecutive points in the middle and last part of this game efficiently. As a result, Lin succeeded in defeating Chong at 21-14.

Lin made a comment at the mixed zone “The wind in the gymnasium was stronger than yesterday, so it was a little difficult to perform in the usual play style. Also, men’s singles players from many countries have become stronger than before. I’m aiming to defeat many players to get back to the best 3 in BWF ranking.

Jan O Jorgensen (DEN) 21-13 / 21-12 Riichi Takeshita (JPN)

The victory seemed to be way too easy for Danish player today who defeated Takeshita with a huge score difference. Though Takeshita got 13 and 12 points for each game, but actually 5 points in the first game and 4 points in the second game were earned after the game was almost concluded by Jorgensen, getting 19 points. Today Jorgensen was superior in every shot he made, high and clear smashes, net-shots, many were out of range for Takeshita, and it seemed that there was no chance for Takeshita to win.

Hu Yun (HKG) 21-19 / 21-17 Takuma Ueda (JPN)

Although we could feel the tense in the air among the spectators, both opponents seemed to remain calm throughout this close and tight match.

During the first game, Hu played aggressively with his tricky and carefully calculated drive, sending the shutter to both sides of Ueda’s rear court. Ueda, at the same time patiently returned such opponent’s shots and from time to time earned points with hard drive shots of his own. At his 18-19, Hu accelerated and increased his pace making straight smashes to Ueda’s foreside line instead. This way by changing his strategy from cross-court smashes that were effective during early stage of the game, Hong Kong player could take an advantage over Ueda.

Next he made smash to Ueda’s body for reaching game point. Finally Hu returned steep smash of Ueda’s high lobbing shot that was made against Hu’s net. He delivered the shot to Ueda’s side, and closed the game.

From the very beginning of the second game, Ueda could not keep accuracy of his shots. Giving six and three consecutive points to his opponent until 6-13 put Japanese player in a very tough situation. Trying to stay focused, Ueda caught up to 14-15, returning Hu’s smashes by hard drive shots. But Hu’s skill of net play exceeded that of Ueda, who was frequently forced to make lobbing shots. It was a spectacular game for the fans in the gymnasium.

Game continued with Hu, making strong and steep smashes against lobbing shots of Japanese player, and Ueda managed to return those twice. However the last one popped up to the net and Hu finished match by pushing it.

Match report for Women's Singles

Li Xuerui (CHN) 21-5 / 21-16 Eriko Hirose (JPN)

During the first game, Li overwhelmed Hirose with six and eight consecutive points. Hirose tried to use high clear and lobbing shots to return Li’s attack. The strategy was to try to make Li move to four corners of court, but many of those shots went out of back line on so many occasions. Such an orthodox play style of Hirose is not a big threat for Li, who made effective decisive shots such as cross cuts and cross-court smashes.

In the second game, Hirose seemed to finally adjust herself to Li’s play style and kept leading till 10-9, She was showing a great techniques of persistent high clear shots against that of Li, and precise receives to net against Li’s smashes and cuts. Hirose tried various attack styles such as swift cross smash or controlled straight smash to the back side area of Li’s court to get back the game, but Li coped with it returning even stronger shots. Starting from this point of the game, Hirose’s lobbing shot started to go over the back line several times. Li got seven consecutive points to 16-10. Backed up with cheering fans, Hirose made her last attempt to win, shooting effective drop shots and drive shots to go up to 15 -18, including successfully challenging to judgment of out call for her high clear. Li closed the match by swift cross lobbing shot which led Hirose’s to make an error by trying to smash it from difficult position.

Hirose quoted, “I could not read the wind through the game as you saw, also I intended to keep attacking using high clears and smashes, but was pressed back by Li’s strong shots."

Carolina Marin (ESP) 19-21 / 21-14 / 21-14 Busanan Ongbumrungpan (THA)

Both players were chasing each other during the first game with Carolina’s hard smashes and Busanan’s skillful receiving techniques and net play until 18-18 score. Surprisingly Busanan changed her pace to abruptly smash Carolina’s long service for 19th point and made beautiful cross net for 20th. Busanan closed the game by delivering very sharp cross smash to back side court of her opponent.

Second game also proceeded close until reaching 9-9 score. This time Carolina kept rally persistently and made timely smashes. This new tactics seem to exhaust Thai player who was moving a lot in her court.

Final game was one-sided attacks from Spanish player. Carolina continued her offence with cut and drop shots in addition to her favorite strong smashes. Bisanan had to spend most of the time in defending position with no much chance to counter attack. Carolina got five consecutive points to 9-5 and went steadily to 19-9. At this stage of the game she lost four consecutive points. However it didn’t stop her from finishing the match with safety margin.

Match report for Men's Doubles

Hendra Setiawan & Mohammad Ahsan 21-23 / 21-12 / 21-15 Takeshi Kamura & Keigo Sonoda

Hendra Seriawan & Mohammad Ahsan from Indonesia, BWF ranked number 1 and the defending champion of Yonex Open Japan 2013, put on a display of exciting match with Kamura Takeshi & Keigo Sonoda (BWF rank No.12).

In contrast to the expected one-sided victory by Seriawan & Ahsap, Kamura & Sonoda showed an extraordinary battle in attempt to win this big game. Japanese pair, backed by the support of home fans, started the first game aggressively, attacking the opponents with continuous smashes and low drive shots. However, not surprisingly, Indonesian pair was able to persistently return all shots, one after another. Especially, those shots that Indonesian pair touched softly and dropped to the front of the opponent’s court were remarkable. Their speed and reaction was unbelievable because it was difficult to response immediately in such situations. However, Japanese pair continued their tactics with connecting shots and forced Indonesian pair to make net errors, resulting in 3 consecutive points from 20-21 at game point. With the score of 23-21 Japanese pair won the first game.

Coming to their senses, Indonesian pair took back their attacking pace in the second game. Changing the strategy from using numbers of powerful smashes in the first game, Indonesian pairs started to use unexpected drop shots from time to time. This tactics left Japanese pair helpless, not being able to return the shots. Indonesian pair earned 5 consecutive points from 8-7 to 13-7. Completely getting back to their usual pace, Indonesians accelerated to close the second game at 21-12.

In the deciding game was a fierce battle with both pairs displaying horizontal drive shots rallies, sometime way too fast for spectators to see. They fought in a dead heat until the middle of this game. However, Japanese pair made 4 consecutive returning mistakes from 14-15 to 14-19. As these points seemed to be decisive for this game, Indonesian pair finally closed this exciting game at 21-15.

Indonesian pair mentioned in the interview “We were so tired because each rally was very long due to Japanese pair’s persistent defenses. However, we will get Yonex Open Japan title again as a defending champion.”

Match report for Women's Doubles

Yuriko Miki / Koharu Yonemoto (Japan rank No.35) 15-21 / 21-13 / 21-10 Duanganong Aroonkesorn / Kunchala Voravichitchaikul (Thailand rank No.14)

Miki/Yonemoto played extremely well today, defeating higher ranked Thai pair. We could see the Thai pair wining the first game relatively easy thanks to many repeated unforced errors committed by the Japanese pair.

In the second game, Japanese pair scored from 1-0 to 4-0 and then 5-4 to 9-4. Gaining back their confidence, Japanese pair concentrated more on the game. Good start was the key point leading to the victory of the Japanese pair. It seemed that both Miki and Yonemoto were able to power up and focus till the end to win the match. They started moving more lightly and swiftly comparing to the first game. In the final game, this worked well again at 13-9 to 17-9, then 18-10 to 21-10. Duration was 57 minutes.

Misaki Matsutomo & Ayaka Takahashi (JPN) 21-19 / 21-18 Eefje Muskens & Selena Piek (NED)

It wasn’t an easy victory for the Japanese pair today as well. Dutch pair displayed excellent skills of soft touch drop shots as well as high hitting points. This helped the pair to lead until 19-19. From this critical stage, Japanese team displayed unbelievable concentration and exceptional teamwork. Matsutomo made excellent return of opponent’s killer cut to sideline of their opponent’s frontcourt area. This was followed by Takahashi’s strong smash, which determined the faith of the game.

Although Dutch pair managed to push Japan’s service, nevertheless going a little higher than top of the net, it went over back line. As a result, Japanese pair won the first game. Through the game, Japanese side suffered from their continuous service errors (too short) and it was the reason behind the fierce battle.

Second game proceeded almost in the same style as first one. Japan side made impressive miracle return of the shuttle that was going almost over their head and kept rally to their 16th point. It looked that Japanese pair was going to finish the match easily with this miracle point, but Dutch pair rejuvenated and continued to play patiently till 18-17. Finally Japan closed match by Matsutomo’s skillful net shot.

Jin Ma / Yuanting Tang (China rank No.60 ) 25-27 / 21-14 / 21-13 Christinna Pedersen /Kamilla Rytter Juhl (Denmark rank No.2)

Jin Ma and Yuanting Tang pair was having a hard time to organize a defense strategy throughout the game. On the contrary the offensive techniques were supreme, with stronger, faster smashes and deep angled cut shots toward opponents' fore part of the court. As a result, Danish succeeded in breaking through the weak defensive formation of Chinese pair in the first game, which resulted in taking 1-0 lead in favor to Danish pair.

In the second game, which determined the faith of the match, Chinese pair managed to regroup their defense formation by changing the strategy and keeping the Danish pair away from desired victory. As time passed, Christinna and Kamilla seemed getting tired by the final game resulting in poorer performance. They lost a number of consecutive points to Chinese pair from 5-5 to 5-10 and again from 10-12 to 10-15. Chinese pair closed the game at 21-13 and won the match. Duration was 79 minutes.

Match report for Mixed Doubles

Kenichi Hayakawa/Misaki Matsutomo (Japan rank No.19) 21-17 / 21-11 Tarun Kona / Ashwini Ponnappa (India rank No.37)

At the mixed zone interview, Hayakawa reviewed that the Indian pair made many unforced errors and which helped them play rather easy. He also mentioned that Indian pair did not have any shots that they could not anticipate and shuttle speed was not enough to make it difficult for Japanese pair to respond to. The match duration was only 27 minutes.

Japanese pair is looking forward to playing at the quarterfinals tomorrow.

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