Photo credit: Tang Shi
We have finally reached the finals at the World Championships in Nanjing and it’s time to find the World Champions anno 2018. After a week of more than 10,000 minutes of badminton there are only five matches left.
First final of the day was women’s double, which was between two Japanese pairs. The Japanese women’s doubles have really conquered the world the last couple of years and they have no less than four pairs in top 10 of the world ranking. Two of these were to decide the gold and silver between them.
Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota, ranked 2 in the world and silver medalists from the World Championships in Glasgow 2017, were favorites against their compatriots Mayu Matsumoto and Wakana Nagahara, ranked 9. They had a 3-0 lead head-to-head before today’s encounter, which includes a win in the last final between the two pairs at Indonesia Open in July.
Maximum two points lead
In an arena with lots of spectators but without any atmosphere – probably because the Chinese spectators were waiting for the all-Chinese mixed double final – it was four Japanese women who knew each other’s game very well. It was an extremely close match where both pairs followed each other all the way up through first game, however, mostly with a small lead of a few points to the favorites Fukushima and Hirota. They also managed to bag the first game 21-19 in a game with no more than two points lead on the way, but it was Matsumoto and Nagahara who should be off to the best start in second game.
The lower ranked Japanese quickly gained a 5-1 lead but were caught up with again at 8-8. Once again though, Matsumoto and Nagahara gained a lead and at 17-14 it looked very much like we were going to have three games. Then the match went a little back and forward for a while. Fukushima and Hirota took 4 consecutive points and came to 18-17, only three points away from the gold. Moments later there was game point for Matsumoto and Nagahara who managed to win second game with the same score as they lost the first with; 21-19.
Third game looked to belong to Fukushima and Hirota again as they brought themselves to a 9-4 lead. The remaining of the match they kept a 3-4 point lead, and some unlucky serve errors from Matsumoto and Nagahara didn’t help the lower ranked Japanese very much. But… they came back! After two match points for the gold to Fukushima and Hirota, Matsumoto and Nagahara came back to 20-20 and they even took the next two points making them take the gold with 22-20 after 95 minutes of play. Fukushima and Hirota must once again settle for silver in a very close match.
Congratulations to the new World Champions; Mayu Matsumoto and Wakana Nagahara from Japan!
Women’s double medals:
Gold: Mayu Matsumoto/Wakana Nagahara, Japan
Silver: Yuki Fukushima/Sayaka Hirota, Japan
Bronze: Shiho Tanaka/Koharu Yonemoto, Japan
Bronze: Greysia Polii/Apriyani Rahayu, Indonesia
You can see the results of all the semifinals here