Photo credit: Badmintonthaitoday.com

The countdown to Guangzhou has started. All the eight best of the year in each category is in China to compete in the HBSC BWF World Tour Finals 2018. Here is a presentation of the players in the women’s double category.

1. Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi, Japan

The Olympic Champions from 2016 top the HSBC Race to Guangzhou Ranking and are second on the BWF World Ranking. Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi were battling with compatriots Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota for the spot in the season finals to the very end; in the last tournament the two pairs switched place on the qualification ranking. That made Fukushima and Hirota miss out on the the season finals because the current World Champions are from Japan as well, and the World Champions are automatically qualified. That is really a shame, not least because Fukushima and Hirota are number 1 on the BWF World Ranking. But back to Matsutomo and Takahashi; the duo was in seven finals during 2018 and won four of them. Only twice they suffered an early exit in first round.

Results from finals in 2018:

Indonesia Masters: Matsutomo/Takahashi, Japan vs. GreysiaPolii/Apriyani Rahayu, Indonesia 21-17 21-12
Asian Championships: Yuki Fukushima/Sayaka Hirota, Japan vs. Matsutomo/Takahashi, Japan 21-18 18-2121-15
Malaysia Open: Matsutomo/Takahashi,Japan vs. Chen Qingchen/Jia Yifan, China 21-12 21-12
Thailand Open: Greysia Polii/Apriyani Rahayu, Indonesia vs. Matsutomo/Takahashi, Japan 21-13 21-10
Asian Games: Chen Qingchen/Jia Yifan, China vs. Matsutomo/Takahashi, Japan 22-20 22-20
Victor China Open: Matsutomo/Takahashi, Japan vs. Mayu Matsumoto/Wakana Nagahara, Japan 21-16 21-12
Korea Open: Matsutomo/Takahashi, Japan vs. Yuki Fukushima/Sayaka Hirota, Japan 21-11 21-18

2. Mayu Matsumoto/Wakana Nagahara, Japan

It is Mayu Matsumoto and Wakana Nagahara’s fault that the top pair on the BWF World Ranking, Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota, are not in Guangzhou. That is because Matsumoto and Nagahara won the World Championships in August and the World Champions are automatically qualified for the season finals. They finished 3 in the HSBC Race to Guangzhou Ranking themselves and are number 3 on the BWF World Ranking. Obviously the highlight of the year was the gold medals at the World Championships; not expected by a pair that was number 32 in the world when the year began. Matsumoto and Nagahara only played 14 individual tournaments in 2018 and the strength of Japanese women’s doubles is confirmed when they weren’t even in the Japanese team for the Asian Team Championships and the Uber Cup – both won by Japan, by the way.

Results from finals in 2018:

Indonesia Open: Yuki Fukushima/Sayaka Hirota, Japan vs. Matsumoto/Nagahara, Japan 21-14 16-21 21-14
World Championships: Matsumoto/Nagahara, Japan vs. Yuki Fukushima/Sayaka Hirota, Japan 19-21 21-19 22-20
Spain Masters: Matsumoto/Nagahara, Japanvs. Ayako Sakuramoto/Yukiko Takahata, Japan 21-17 21-13
Victor China Open: Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi, Japan vs. Matsumoto/Nagahara, Japan 21-16 21-12
French Open: Matsumoto/Nagahara, Japanvs. Gabriela Stoeva/Stefani Stoeva, Bulgaria 21-14 21-19
Fuzhou China Open: Lee So Hee/Shin Seung Chan, Korea vs. Matsumoto/Nagahara, Japan 23-21 21-18

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