Photo credit: Tang Shi
The World Champion from 2017 was the third Japanese who was facing a Chinese opponent in women’s singles today. Japan and China had one won quarterfinal each. Now it was up to Nozomi Okuhara (8) and Chen Xiaoxin to decide the last battle between the two countries.
Chen Yufei had secured one Chinese ticket to the semifinals by defeating Akane Yamaguchi (2) and Aya Ohori did the same for Japan when she won against Gao Fangjie. Which of the two countries that would have two semifinalists in women’s single was going to be decided now.
Nozomi Okuhara had won the only previous encounter between her and Gao Fangjie when she won comfortably in straight games in China Open three years ago. Today things were a little different; the match was at least much closer than in 2015.
First game was a tactical and close affair where the two girls were even pretty much all the way up to 17-16 for the Japanese. Three consecutive points gave Okuhara her first game point but Gao got one more point before the game was settled; 21-17 for the local hero.
The same scenario was the case in second game. Once again the scoring was very close until the end of the game. From even at 15-15 Okuhara pulled away and left her opponent with only one more point. The Japanese secured her spot in the semifinal with 21-16 and can now look forward to playing one of her compatriots tomorrow; Aya Ohori.
Time for revenge
The third men’s double of the day was between Taiwanese Chen Hung Ling/Wang Chi-Lin and Kim Won Ho/Seo Jung Jae from Korea. The Koreans had entered the main draw of Japan Open due to a withdrawal from Germany’s Jones Ralfy Jansen and Josche Zurwonne.
Kim and Seo won the first encounter against Chen and Wang at the Asian Games so it was the Taiwanese duo that was chasing revenge. And the two bronze medalists from the World Championships didn’t fail to live up to the expectations as favorites.
Having led most of the way in first game Kim and Seo missed out on bagging the game as Chen and Wang pulled out a good streak of 7 consecutive points and grabbed the game 21-17. Second game was almost identical. The Koreans were up 18-13 but couldn’t force the match into a third game.
Chen Hung Ling and Wang Chi-Lin won 21-19 and qualified for the semifinal tomorrow against the World Champions Li Junhui and Liu Yuchen. The last encounter against the Chinese was at the team event of the Asian Games where Li and Liu drew the longest straw. Tomorrow the Taiwanese duo will chase revenge again…
Longest match of the week
Pretend you have been playing badminton on a high level for 98 minutes! That was what Greysia Polii/Apriyani Rahayu (4) and Gabriela Stoeva/Stefani Stoeva did today when they settled who should advance to the semifinal.
Just as in the men’s double above it was the higher rank pair that was chasing revenge; the Stoeva sisters won the only previous encounter against the Indonesians at All England earlier this year. And the Bulgarians continued where they finished back then as they took a very close first game 21-19.
Second game was just as close up to 16-16 before one pair pulled away. This time it was Polii and Rahayu who finally won their first game against the Bulgarians; 21-17, and a third decisive game was coming up. In the final game the rallies were getting slower and so were the two Stoeva sisters.
Ready for the world number 1 tomorrow
From 9-7 for the Indonesians it was over for Gabriela and Stefani Stoeva. The 4th seeded Indonesians came closer to their successful revenge and after nearly 100 minutes of play they won the final game 21-12. Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu will for sure not run many meters tonight. They better get some rest before tomorrow’s tough match against the world number one, local darlings Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota.
Head-to-head statistics between the Indonesians and the Japanese says 2-2 Polii and Rahayu won the first two encounters in 2017 – Fukushima and Hirota have won both encounters in 2018. Who is up for the next win and a spot in the final of Japan Open?
WS: Nozomi Okuhara, Japan (8) vs. Gao Fangjie, China 21-17 21-16
Total point score: 42-33
Total points played: 75
Length of match: 53 min
Average points per minute: 1.42
Average seconds per point: 42.40 sec
MD: Chen Hung Ling/Wang Chi-Lin, Chinese Taipei vs. Kim Won Ho/Seo Seung Jae, Korea 21-17 21-19
Total point score: 42-36
Total points played: 78
Length of match: 40 min
Average points per minute: 1.95
Average seconds per point: 30.77 sec
WD: Greysia Polii/Apriyani Rahayu, Indonesia (4) vs. Gabriela Stoeva/Stefani Stoeva, Bulgaria 19-21 21-17 21-12
Total point score: 61-50
Total points played: 111
Length of match: 98 min
Average points per minute: 1.13
Average seconds per point: 52.97 sec
Stay tuned! There are more Japan Open updates on the way…