Photo credit: Tang Shi
All ten matches on the TV court included Japanese players. Though it was not all victories, it was a very fine first day for the Japanese shuttlers at Japan Open.
Japan Open was kicked off with some of the best badminton you could wish for as World Champion Kento Momota was first man on court. The local hero and favorite to take the title in Tokyo was up against Danish youngster Anders Antonsen, who was the only one to win a game against Momota at the World Championships last month.
Opposite the two shuttlers’ battle in Nanjing there was no doubt about the winner today. Antonsen cashed in quite a defeat as he only scored 19 points in total. He did follow the Japanese World Champion quite well up to 6-8 but from there Momota was like a Shinkansen train – the Japanese high speed trains with a world record top speed of 603 km/h.
Kento Momota bagged first game only needing the serve twice from 8-6. Two streaks of 5 and 8 consecutive points made it 21-9 for the Japanese. In second game it was quickly 8-2 and soon after it was over. Momota finished off his Danish opponent with 21-10 in second game and can now prepare for a second round match against another Dane, Rasmus Gemke, who won his first match against Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk from Thailand. It will be the Danish comet’s first encounter with the Japanese top player.
Getting ready for all-Japanese encounter
Japan’s former women’s single World Champion, Nozomi Okuhara, was next on court. She faced Hong Kong’s Cheung Ngan Yi against whom she had a 6-0 head-to-head lead. The only game Okuhara ever lost to Cheung was in their last encounter where the Hongkonger took first game 24-22.
In first game the Japanese was in control from first point. At no time was she behind and she easily bagged the game 21-13. In second game Cheung proved much stronger and had a very comfortable lead of 12-7 halfway through the game. But an injury stopped the Hongkonger at 13-12 for Okuhara and Cheung had to withdraw.
Nozomi Okuhara is through to second round against compatriot Sayaka Sato who won in straight games against Lee Chia Hsin from Chinese Taipei.
Nothing to do against triple World Champion
Akane Yamaguchi, second seeded local hero in women’s single, lived up to expectations as she won in straight games against Pai Yu Po from Chinese Taipei. With 21-18 21-12 she is through to second round against Chinese Cai Yanyan who eliminated Michelle Li from Canada, also in straight games.
Kanta Tsuneyama was up against silver medalist from the Asian Games, Chou Tien Chen, who had the role as favorite on his shoulders. It also went as expected for the Taiwanese who gave Japan their first defeat of the day as he won 21-11 21-10.
In mixed double Takuro Hoki and Koharu Yonemoto had the pleasure of last week’s Spain Masters champions, Danish duo Niclas Nøhr and Sara Thygesen. The Danes who won the two pairs’ previous encounter in two close games at Indonesia Open in July didn’t have much to come with today. Hoki and Yonemoto won fairly easily 21-10 21-15.
Aya Ohori added on to the Japanese victories with another straight game win against Yip Pui Yin from Hong Kong before Japan cashed in their second defeat on the TV court. This was Saena Kawakami who was up against her superior in triple World Champions Carolina Marín from Spain. The Spaniard had no problems securing her ticket to second round and won 21-7 21-12 in just half an hour.
Double up on mixed doubles
That brings us to Japan’s second mixed double pair on the TV court today, Yuki Kaneko and Misaki Matsutomo. The two faced Lu Ching Yao and Hu Ling Fang from Chinese Taipei in a match where everything was open in first game. The Taiwanese failed to redeem their two game points and instead it was Kaneko and Matsutomo who won first game on their first match point; 23-21. In second game the Japanese duo was superior and closed the match with 21-15.
There are still two men’s singles missing on the TV court as this article is published. Kazumasa Sakai is up against Korea’s Son Wan Ho and Kenta Nishimoto finishes the day with a match against Lee Cheuk Yiu from Hong Kong.
Stay tuned! There are more Japan Open updates on the way…