The Final: Denmark's Badminton Tradition Faces off Against Robust Chinese Strength
Denmark and China—two of the world's strongest nations in badminton. This year's finals see the two countries clash. Women's singles sees an all-Japanese final, and men's doubles sees Asia's best pairs fight for a place at the top.
Lin Dan (CHN) vs. Viktor Axelsen (DEN)
Lin Dan is into his first YONEX OPEN JAPAN final in five years after overtaking his rival Lee Chong Wei in the tournament's second round. Facing him will be Viktor Axelsen, who has reached his third Superseries final this year coming off of the India Open and Malaysia Open. That said, after his semifinal match at this tournament, the Dane had this to say, "Superseries or not, a match is a match, and I will do my best to win." With Lin Dan holding two Olympic golds and five titles at the BWF World Championships to his name, young Axelsen's achievements don't compare that of the legendary Super Dan, but his hard work and steady performance has brought him to No. 6 in the world. Lin Dan is at No. 5. Perhaps this year's YONEX OPEN JAPAN will see a new hero born?
Nozomi Okuhara (JPN) vs. Akane Yamaguchi (JPN)
The outcome of this year's women's singles draw has left two domestic shuttlers on the stage for this year's final: Nozomi Okuhara and Akane Yamaguchi. While Yamaguchi appears to have the advantage with a YONEX OPEN JAPAN title to her name from 2013, from her junior days until last year's Hong Kong Open in November, Yamaguchi has yet to win against Okuhara. Being out of competition due to a knee injury, this is Okuhara's first YONEX OPEN JAPAN in three years. There is no doubt her feelings going into this final are strong, and whether she can harness these feelings to bring about a victory will be the key to this year's women's singles final.
Lee Yong Dae/Yoo Yeon Seong (KOR) vs. Fu Haifeng/Zhang Nan (CHN)
The fact that defending champions and No. 1 seeds Lee Yong Dae and Yoo Yeon Seong have advanced to the finals this year is hardly surprising. Standing in their way of another title is the Chinese pair of Fu Haifeng and Zhang Nan. The two stand even at 2 wins and 2 losses, but the Chinese pair comes into this final after beating world champions Hendra Setiawan and Mohammad Ahsan. If they can continue their strong streak, they could potentially come down strong on their opponents, who may likely keep on the defensive to protect their status as champions at this tournament. Furthermore, when Fu Haifeng was paired with Chinese shuttler Cai Yun, the two won at YONEX OPEN JAPAN between 2010 and 2011.
Christinna Pedersen/Kamilla Rytter Juhl (DEN) vs. Zhao Yunlei/Zhong Qianxin (CHN)
YONEX OPEN JAPAN will see Western shuttlers in the final round of women's singles for the first time since 1991. Those shuttlers are Danish Christinna Pedersen and Kamilla Rytter Juhl. Their opponents are the Chinese pair of Zhao Yunlei and Zhong Qianxin. Zhao is also into the mixed doubles final at this year's tournament, and her partner Zhong Qianxin holds the distinction of first appearing at YONEX OPEN JAPAN in 2011 and winning in that same year. The Danish pair faced Zhao Yunlei—paired with Tian Qing, who she won the London Olympic gold with—at this year's BWF World Championships, and were defeated. Do Pedersen and Kamilla have a shot at victory this time?
Zhang Nan/Zhao Yunlei (CHN) vs. Joachim Fischer Nielsen/Christinna Pedersen (DEN)
The mixed doubles final puts consecutive three-time champions Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei against Joachim Fischer Nielsen and Christinna Pedersen, one of the few European pairs to face this intimidating Chinese pair. The Danes could prove to be an obstacle for the Chinese pair looking to win a fourth consecutive title—Fischer Nielsen and Pedersen have made it through this tournament without dropping a single game against Japanese, Korean and Chinese opponents. Furthermore, after their semifinal match the Danish pair expressed their strong desire to win this year's title, fully aware of their opponents' strength. Will they be able to beat this Chinese pair in their first meeting of the season?