Photo credit: Badmintonthaitoday.com
The semifinals of the World Tour Finals 2018 are still ongoing as we post these lines. Most of the finalists have already been found; only three more semifinals are yet to be played.
As already reported before the semifinals kicked off, Japan was sure to be represented in at least one final tomorrow. Women’s single was the only category with an all-national battle as Akane Yamaguchi and Nozomi Okuhara opened the day with their 17th encounter against each other.
It was the lower ranked of the two, Nozomi Okuhara, who was best on court today as she qualified for the final with a straight game win over her compatriot. In 46 minutes she had brought herself on an 11-6 lead head-to-head and her opponent of the final was to be found between Pusarla V. Sindhu and Ratchanok Intanon.
Sindhu started that match best and took first game after only being down in the beginning of the match. Second game ended very dramatically where Ratchanok had several chances to force the match into three games. Three game points for the Thai weren’t enough though, and the Indian claimed the win on her second match point with 25-23.
With this win Sindhu equalizes the head-to-head statistic against Ratchanok to 4-4. The same statistics against Okuhara is also level; before tomorrow’s final it is 6-6 between Pusarla V. Sindhu and Nozomi Okuhara.
While Japan was the only country to have compatriots playing each other in the semifinals,China will be the only country to have compatriots on both sides of the net in the finals. The world can look forward to yet another battle between the two best mixed double pairs in the world when number 1 and 2 on the world ranking meet again.
Both pairs needed three games before the spots in the final were secured though. Wang Yilyu and Huang Dongping (2) started out fine against the All England Champions Yuta Watanabe and Arisa Higashino though. They took first game with a smashing 21-9. But the Japanese stroke back and forced the match into three games. Little did it help though, as the Chinese duo was the victorious one after 72 minutes of play.
For Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong (1) it was a rematch of their shortest match from the group stage as they faced Thailand’s best, Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai. The Thais stole first game 21-19 and suddenly things were getting interesting. But Zheng and Huang once again showed why they are the best mixed double pair of the season; with two fairly easy wins in second and third game they booked their entry into tomorrow’s final as well. It will be the fifth final in 2018 between Zheng Siwei/Huang Yaqiong and Wang Yilyu/Huang Dongping.
Rematch of the WC final
The men’s single final could not have become any better match; we are going to see are match of the final from this year’s World Championships. Kento Momota who has been outstanding this season once again faces local hero Shi Yuqi in tomorrow’s final.
Momota won his three group match this week in straight games, and he qualified to the final still without losing a single game. Son Wan Ho did what he could in the semifinal today but it was simply not enough to prevent the strong Japanese the win.
Shi Yuqi started off pretty badly today as Sameer Verma took first game with 21-12. When the Indian even had a match point at 20-19 in second game, all the local spectators in Guangzhou held their breath. And from then it was Shi Yuqi allover. The Chinese won second game and ran away from his Indian opponent in third. The rematch of the World Championship final was a fact.
Korea’s women are back
Korea’s best women’s double is finishing the year with a strong performance. Lee So Hee and Shin Seung Chan simply outplayed their Japanese opponents in the semifinal today; the won with two times 21-13 against the World Champions from August, Mayu Matsumoto and Wakana Nagahara. The Japanese really had nothing to come with today and it was a very fair result.
Who Lee and Shin will play in tomorrow’s final is still to be decided. Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi are up against Du Yue and Li Yinhui in the last semifinal of the day.
Currently the first men’s double semifinal is being played; Danes and European Champions, Kim Astrup and Anders Skaarup Rasmussen are fighting with Hiroyuki Endo and Yuta Watanabe for a spot in the final tomorrow. The other semifinal follows right after this one and is a battle between Li Junhui/Liu Yuchen and Chen HungLing/Wang Chi-Lin.
The results from the semifinals are as follows:
Match 1: Nozomi Okuhara, JPN vs. Akane Yamaguchi, JPN 21-17 21-14
Match 2: Wang Yilyu/Huang Dongping, CHN vs. Yuta Watanabe/Arisa Higashino, JPN 21-9 19-21 21-13
Match 3: Pusarla V. Sindhu, IND vs. Ratchanok Intanon, THA 21-16 25-23
Match 4: Zheng Siwei/Huang Yaqiong, CHN vs. Dechapol Puavaranukroh/Sapsiree Taerattanachai, THA 19-21 21-14 21-12
Match 5: Shi Yuqi, CHN vs. Sameer Verma, IND 12-21 22-20 21-17
Match 6: Lee So Hee/Shin Seung Chan,KOR vs. Mayu Matsumoto/Wakana Nagahara, JPN 21-13 21-13
Match 7: Kento Momota, JPN vs. Son Wan Ho, KOR 21-14 21-12
Match 8: Kim Astrup/Anders SkaarupRasmussen, DEN vs. Hiroyuki Endo/Yuta Watanabe, JPN – awaiting result
Match 9: Li Junhui/Liu Yuchen, CHNvs. Chen Hung Ling/Wang Chi-Lin, TPE – awaiting result
Match 10: Misaki Matsutomo/AyakaTakahashi, JPN vs. Du Yue/Li Yinhui, CHN – awaiting result