Photo credit: Tang Shi
Potential clashes in the quarterfinals could be the world no. 1 against the Asian Games Champion, and the World Champion against the Asian Games silver medalist. Eyes are surely focused on Japan’s newly crowned World Champion, Kento Momota.
The top half of the men’s single draw is by far the hardest with names like Viktor Axelsen, Ng Ka Long Angus, Anthony Sinisuka Ginting, Jonatan Christie, Kento Momota, Chou Tien Chen and Lin Dan all placed here. That allows us many exciting matches until the semifinals.
Denmark has been represented in the final in men’s singles at Japan Open the past three years. Two defeats in 2015 and 2016 were converted to a victory when Viktor Axelsen won the title last year when he defeated Lee Chong Wei in the final. The Malaysian defeated Jan Ø. Jørgensen in the final of 2016.
Lee Chong Wei is not playing this year due to his health problems but Viktor Axelsen is. The Dane has, apart from one week in April this year, been number 1 on the world ranking for nearly a year now (since 28 September 2017). He defends his title at Japan Open as top seeded this year and he has been drawn against Hsu Jen Hao from Chinese Taipei in first round. His first battle with one of the local players will be in second round where Kenta Nishimoto will be waiting if he defeats Qiao Bin from China.
Runner-up at the World Championships, Shi Yuqi from China, is seeded second this week. He will be up against Thailand’s Khosit Phetpradab in first round and the winner of Wang Tzu Wei, Chinese Taipei, and Mark Caljouw, the Netherlands, in second.
The third seed is the one all Japanese fans will be watching; Kento Momota. The Japanese World Champion began the year as number 48 in the world but has slowly but steadily crawled up the ranking to the 4th spot now. After his comeback everything has been a success for Momota and the question is if anyone can stop him this week. Playing in front of his home crowd must surely give him an extra 10% or more.
The strong Japanese now has the chance to prove he is the best in the world in front of his home crowd when Japan Open begins in Tokyo tomorrow. At the World Championships in August only one player had Momota under pressure and forced him into three games. That was Denmark’s Anders Antonsen, ranked 16 in the world, and the two have been drawn for first round at Japan Open.
Korea’s Son Wan Ho must be pretty tired of Danish men’s singles in Japan. The past two years he lost the semifinal against Viktor Axelsen and Jan Ø. Jørgensen… The Korean is seeded four and will be up against another local hero in Kazumasa Sakai. In second round there is potential for a battle with one of his compatriots if they both win first round; Lee Dong Keun and Sameer Verma is waiting in second round.
Chen Long against no. 1
Chou Tien Chen who lost the final at the recent Asian Games is seeded 5 and he also has a Japanese opponent in his first match. It is Kanta Tsuneyama who has the pleasure of the strong Taiwanese. A big match could be waiting for the winner of this match as he will most likely be up against Lin Dan in second round. However, only is the Chinese legend manages to win against Kantaphon Wangcharoen from Thailand in his first round match.
That brings us to another Chinese legend, Chen Long, who is seeded 6. He had been drawn against Indonesia’s Tommy Sugiarto who tops the HSBC Race to Guangzhou Ranking – the ranking to what was formerly known as the Superseries Finals, and a ranking where Viktor Axelsen and Kento Momota by the way are sharing the 13th spot at the moment. This spot doesn’t qualify them to Guangzhou. Chen Long is favorite against Sugiarto though; the Chinese is leading 10-1 head-to-head.
Potential Indonesian encounter
India’s top men’s single is seeded 7. Kidambi Srikanth has to surpass Huang Yuxiang from China in first round before he can prepare for a second round match against either Danish Hans-Kristian Solberg Vittinghus or Hong Kong’s Wong Wing Ki Vincent. Huang defeated Srikanth with 22-20 in third game in the round of 16 at All England this year so the Indian is surely up for revenge this time. Vittinghus has a good grab of Wong as he has only lost one game against the Hongkonger in their three previous encounters.
And exactly Hong Kong concludes the list of seeded players as Ng Ka Long Angus is seeded 8. He has been drawn in what could very well become the most interesting first two rounds; his opponent in first round is Anthony Sinisuka Ginting from Indonesia who grabbed the bronze at the Asian Games. The winner of this match has the pleasure of either H. S. Prannoy from India or the Asian Games Champion, Jonatan Christie also from Indonesia.
Results from Japan Open 2017:
Viktor Axelsen, Denmark vs. Lee Chong Wei, Malaysia 21-14 19-21 21-14
Viktor Axelsen, Denmark vs. Son Wan Ho, Korea 21-16 21-16
Lee Chong Wei, Malaysia vs. Shi Yuqi, China 21-19 21-8
Results from Japan Open 2016:
Lee Chong Wei, Malaysia vs. Jan Ø. Jørgensen, Denmark 21-18 15-21 21-16
Lee Chong Wei, Malaysia vs. Marc Zwiebler, Germany 21-14 21-15
Jan Ø. Jørgensen, Denmark vs. Son Wan Ho, Korea 21-14 21-19
Results from Japan Open 2015:
Lin Dan, China vs. Viktor Axelsen, Denmark 21-19 16-21 21-19
Lin Dan, China vs. Tommy Sugiarto, Indonesia 21-17 21-17
Viktor Axelsen, Denmark vs. Chou Tien Chen, Chinese Taipei 21-19 21-13