Photo credit: Tang Shi

Japan had four women’s doubles at the World Championships in Nanjing and if two of them had not had to play against each other in third round we would probably have seen all four pairs in the semifinals today. But three is also a pretty acceptable result.

It was up to an Indonesian pair to spoil the Japanese dominance in women’s double. Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu, ranked 6 in the world, played the first match of this Saturday against no. 9 in the world, Mayu Matsumoto and Wakana Nagahara. It was the first clash between the two pairs and either of them would make a surprise if they made it into the World Championships final.

We witnessed a dominating Japanese pair from the beginning of the match. Matsumoto and Nagahara were in full control while the Indonesians struggled a bit to find their normal level. It was a one-way street to Japanese victory and they bagged first game 21-12.

Several match points

Second game was a much more intense and close affair. Polii and Rahayu fought really hard and were leading half-way through the game, obviously hoping to force the Japanese into a third decisive game. At 20-19 Matsumoto and Nagahara got their first match point though but the Indonesians weren’t finished yet. However, it took three match points until they could celebrate a ticket to their biggest match ever, the World Championships final. The Japanese duo who has Canada Open 2017 as their biggest title and who were also runners-up at Indonesia Open 2018 won second game 23-21 and have now secured an all Japanese final. Greysia Polii will settle for bronze again, just like in 2015, while it’s a first for Apriyani Rahayu.

Japan wins gold, silver and bronze

This was already clear now that they won the first semifinal. The second semifinal was a battle between two other Japanese pairs; Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota against Shiho Tanaka and Koharu Yonemoto. The Japanese women’s double coaches could take the rest of the weekend off now. Their job was successfully done.

Today’s big match – semifinal at the World Championships – wasn’t the first big match between these two pairs. Fukushima and Hirota won against their compatriots at the All England semifinal this year and Tanaka and Yonemoto were on the winning side at the final of the Superseries Finals in 2017. Being up 3-2 and ranked 3 spots higher than their friends, Fukushima and Hirota were small favorites to reach the final tomorrow.

Konnichiwa, final!

And it was also the favorites who started the match best. At 14-5 it seemed they would not want to leave Tanaka and Yonemoto many chances but few moments later it was all even again; 16-16. Fukushima and Hirota did however take first game with close 21-19. It smelled like final.

Tanaka and Yonemoto couldn’t keep their level in second game. From 1-1 Fukushima and Hirota were leading all the way and didn’t look back. The game was only close again once at 17-15 but few moments later the scoreboard showed 21-15 and Fukushima and Hirota are in their second consecutive World Championship final.

With these results it is therefore clear that Japan takes gold, silver and bronze in Nanjing – something, which is very good for a nation that has only produced two gold medals before in the history of the World Championships…

 

You can see the results of all the semifinals here

 

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