The Next Generation Clashes with Veteran World No. 1
|Lee Chong Wei (MAS)||VS||Shi Yuqi (CHN)|
Head-to-Head: Lee Chong Wei Leads 1-0
Olympic Silver Medalist Lee Chong Wei (World No. 1) faces 20-year-old Shi Yuqi going into the YONEX OPEN JAPAN quarterfinal.
While Shi stands at World No. 32, he is not an opponent to take lightly. Last year he was ranked in the 300s, but made a staggering rise through the rankings, and is making his Superseries debut in Tokyo. Now that he's in the last eight, there is no doubt that he will start to be known as one of the world's top players.
The Chinese youngster is known for his knack at reading the shuttle, and picking it up quickly. "I was beaten to the ground," said Shi with a half-smile when asked about his meeting with Chong Wei last June. There is no doubt that he will want to get past the Malaysian for a spot in the semifinal. Meanwhile, Chong Wei goes into the quarterfinal with confidence, "I'm not doing anything in particular for tomorrow. Just my normal training."
Will the World No. 1 prevail, or will the Chinese underdog pull off the upset of the tournament?
Fun Match Facts
Shi's Musings on the 2016 Olympic Gold Medalist
Prior to the Olympics, Shi had the unique chance of being one of Gold Medalist Chen Long's regular practice partners. "His wealth of experience is extremely vast," spoke Shi of his senior teammate, "He knows exactly what to do, no matter what situation he's in. His decisions are fast, and correct. Watching him, I really feel as if I have ways to go."
It goes without saying that Shi values his time with Chen on his way up the ranks.
A Repeat of Rio in Tokyo
|Nozomi Okuhara (JPN)||VS||Akane Yamaguchi (JPN)|
Head-to-Head: Nozomi Okuhara Leads 6-0
One of the biggest matches in Japanese badminton will be relived on the courts of YONEX OPEN JAPAN. After facing each other in the Olympic quarterfinals, Nozomi Okuhara and Akane Yamaguchi will meet each other in the YONEX OPEN JAPAN quarterfinal.
Including the Olympics, Okuhara holds a 6-0 lead head-to-head against Yamaguchi. However, at the Olympics Yamaguchi gave it her all, playing fierce 3-game match against Okuhara."I will stay strong and defiant out there," spoke Yamaguchi fimrly. Meanwhile, Okuhara is not at top condition after the Olympics, but she is gradually getting back into the swing of competition. "I'm better than I was in the first round," commented Okuhara, "In this second round, I was able to get a good feel for the venue."
Both players excel at rallies, and this match is expected be another long affair like their Olympic meetup. However, Okuahara points out a difference between herself and her junior teammate. "While I specialize in aggressive rallies, Akane uses her rallies as a base to land attacks at key moments," said Okuahara, offering her insight ahead of the big match.
Japanese Faceoff in Quarterfinal
|Ayumi Mine (JPN)||VS||Aya Ohori (JPN)|
Head-to-Head: Ayumi Mine Leads 1-0
The quarterfinal sees a matchup of two up-and-coming Japanese talents. Of the two, Ayumi Mine has been competing internationally, winning at the YONEX US Open, and now stands at World No. 31."I can't say that my goal is to appear in the Tokyo Olympics, because I haven't event qualified for the Japanese National Team yet. First I need to make my way into the A-rank of the Japanese National Team," spoke the 24 year old.
Meanwhile, her opponent Aya Ohori (World No. 44) is ranked at B in the Japanese National Team, and was on Japan's Uber Cup team this past May. At 19, she has very high expectations set upon her. Her age is right between that of Olympians Akane Yamaguchi and Nozomi Okuhara, and her desire to catch up to them is strong. Much like Mine, her goal is also enter the A-rank of the Japanese team, and compete in the Tokyo Olympics.
The two Japanese face each other with completely different play styles. Standing at 152 cm, the petit Mine is known for her undying tenacity. "I have been losing in a lot of recent matches, so I want get back on track at this tournament," spoke Mine. Meanwhile, Ohori uses her height to stay on the attack, and is known for her rapid-fire, angled shots. However, she does have things to improve upon. "When it gets to three games, I lose the confidence to win. That is one thing I really want to improve on." Who will prevail the battle of the long rallies and heavy attacks?
|Keigo Sonoda/Takeshi Kamura (JPN)||VS||Hiroyuki Saeki/Ryota Taohata (JPN)|
Head-to-Head: Sonoda/Kamura Lead 4-1
The second round of this year's YONEX OPEN JAPAN brought about a huge upset—Olympians Kenichi Hayakawa and Hiroyuki Endo were overturned by World No. 76 pair Hiroyuki Saeki and Ryota Taohata. In what was a very close match, the underdogs came out victories in game 2 at 25-23. Hiroyuki and Taohata felt a special feeling winning against their senior teammates—a welcome jolt of confidence for the 28 and 29-year-old pair.
The will face Japanese National Badminton Championships winners Keigo Sonoda and Takeshi Kamura (World No. 15). The pair has a clear idea of what to expect from their opponents, "They will come at us aggressively. We will try our best not to get pushed back," spoke Kamura.
Sonoda and Kamura's specialty is their low-altitude game, in which they drive the shuttle just slightly over the net, cutting down on their opponents' chances. Meanwhile, Saeki and Taohata had this to say ahead of their match, "We know how our opponents work. Even if we make mistakes, we will push forward."
2013 Champs Face off Against Chinese Youngsters
|Mohammad Ahsan/Hendra Setiawan (INA)||VS||Kaixiang/Wang Yilyu (CHN)|
Head-to-Head: First Meeting
"We are confident we can become the next big names from China," proclaimed Huang Kaixiang proudly. The young World No. 143 pair of Huang Kaiziang and Wang Yilyu have beat the Malaysian Olympic Silver Medalists, and are now into the quarterfinals.
Their secret weapon? Speed! "We just rush forward without thinking. We're young, and go at our competition with speed. Keep that in mind when watching us," spoke Huang. While the Chinese duo have beaten V Shem Goh and Wee Kiong Tan prior to the Olympics, winning over the Malaysian pairs after their Olympic Medal holds a special significance. It puts these two youngsters high on the world stage.
They face 2013 champs from Indonesia Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan in the quarterfinal.
The Indonesian pair is looking ahead at their quarterfinal match with a level head, carefully planning on how to proceed. With a wealth of experience and techniques under their belts, they should have the tools to succeed. "We have a lot of experience," said the duo, "We know how to handle a speed-centric match."
Silver Medalists Break into Quarterfinals
|Christinna Pedersen/Kamilla Rytter Juhl (DEN)||VS||Vivian Kah Mun Hoo/Khe Wei Woon (MAS)|
Head-to-Head: Pedersen/ Juhl Lead 4-0
Olympic Silver Medalists Christinna Pedersen and Kamilla Rytter Juhl (World No. 5) are into the YONEX OPEN JAPAN quarterfinals with little trouble. At this rate, the pair is looking to make up for their loss in the Olympic final.
"We unfortunately lost in the Olympic final," spoke Pedersen, "However, we thought we played well. It's always tough against Takahashi and Matsutomo, but this time we plan to make our up the draw and beat them this time."
In order to reach this goal, the Danish pair must first get past Malaysian pair of 6 years Vivian Kah Mun Hoo and Khe Wei Woon (World No. 13). The 26 and 27 year-old pair expressed very honest delight at their result, as they "very rarely make it into the last 8."
The Danes have the upper hand with 4 wins and 0 losses against the Malaysians. However, in the Rio quarterfinals, Hoo and Woon took one game off of eventual Gold Medalists Takahashi and Matsutomo, so they are not to be taken lightly. With sights set on a re-match against the Japanese Olympic Gold Medalists, Pedersen and Juhl head into the quarterfinal at full power.
3 Olympic Medalists Clash in the Quarterfinal
|Peng Soon Chan/Liu Ying Goh (MAS)||VS||Kim GI Jung/Shin Seung Chan|
Head-to-Head: First Meeting
Rio Olympic silver medalists Peng Soon Chan and Liu Ying Goh (World No. 8) won over the Dutch pair and are now into the YONEX OPEN JAPAN quarterfinal. At 28 and 27 years old, the pair took a break after the Olympics and are back in competition at this tournament. "To be honest, we're still at about 70%," spoke the pair. However, in their first YONEX OPEN JAPAN in 4 years, their performance shows that they have their eyes firmly set on the prize.
They face the World No. 28 Korean pair Kim GI Jung and Shin Seung Chan. The pair placed in third at last year's YONEX OPEN JAPAN, and Shin won the Olympic bronze in women's doubles in Rio. The 173 cm Shin stands in the back during her women's doubles matches, but in mixed she's right in front of the net, commanding a very masculine presence.
The mixed doubles quarterfinal sees three Olympic medalists on the court—this match is not to be missed.