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Match Reports
24th September, 2017

The finals of DAIHATSU YONEX JAPAN OPEN 2017 Metlife BWF Super Series have been held at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium on pleasant autumn day in Japan.

Even 5-6 hours before the first match, enthusiastic fans formed the long queue at the entrance of the gymnasium. Japanese spectators hoped that some title could be taken by Japanese players, as 3 Japanese duos of Men', Women's and Mixed Double appeared the each final.
By having cheers and encouragement, Taka-Matsu of Women's Doubles answered again people's expectation, whereas both Inoue & Kaneko of Men's Doubles and Hoki & Hirota of Mixed Doubles lost the chance.
With regret of walkover of Nozomi Okuhara due to her injury yesterday, Carolina Marin, rival of Nozomi, blocked Chinese He Bingjiao by 2 games match. Spanish lady took the first title of Japan Open.
The Men's Singles World Champion, Viktor Axelsen, also stood Lee Chong Wei 's way who wished to take his 7th Japan Open title. Axelsen took the match by 2-1 games in the fierce 76 minutes.

Today we had 5,800 spectators for the final matches and totally about 28,000 throughout this week. We appreciate very much for the blessing sent by almost fully occupied audience to all the winners and the runner ups after the matches.

Results of the Finals are as follows:

(Men' Singles)
Victor Axelsen (DEN) won 2-1 (21-14, 19-21, 21-14) against Lee Chong Wei (MAL)

(Women' Singles)
Carolina Marine (SPN) won 2-0 (23-21, 21-12) against He Bingjiao (CHN)

(Men' Doubles)
Marcus Fernaldi Gideon & Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo (INA) won 2-0 (21-12, 21-15) against Takuto Inoue & Yuki Kaneko (JPN)

(Women's Doubles)
Misaki Matsutomo & Ayaka Takahashi (JPN) won 2-0 (21-18, 21-16) against Kim Ha Na & Hee Yong Kong (KOR)

(Mixed Doubles)
Wang Yilyu & Huang Dongping (CHN) won 2-0 (21-13, 21-8) against Takuro Hoki & Sayaka Hirota (JPN)

Viktor Axelsen (DEN) 2 (21-14, 19-21, 21-14) 1 Lee Chong Wei (MAS)

The dream match all the fans in the world look forward to watching has just begun in Tokyo. It was in breathless suspense over the outcome of the close game. The European prince of the courts Viktor Axelsen (#2 BWF rankings) and the legendary Men's singler Lee Chong Wei created a memorable battle which impressed a coming transition between generations on our mind.

Lee, following the first defeat to Viktor in the Dubai World SuperSeries Finals in 2016 (a head to head record Lee advanced by 9-1), expected that the Dane would now have to deal with greater pressure than ever before. However, the 23-year old rising star Axelsen appeared his sharp attacking ability with 194cm height and a variety of skillful shots from front and back court. The 34 years old LCW were extremely keen on stopping Axelsen by exerting whatever he had achieved in 43 singles titles for last 17 years as a prime contender of Malaysia. Concentrating on each shot, point and match which is Lee's mental attitude at the moment, he today proved his retirement would not be likely to be happened within a few more years.

Viktor, whose dream has just come true in the TOTAL BWF World Championships 2017, performed as well as he had done in this tournament in the beginning of the first game. The Dane appeared to be peak form as the season progressed. He led by 8-1 and 11-6 at the interval with tremendous attack and well controlled defense. His controlled steep smash hit Lee's court without touch repeatedly, which was also remarkable. The big Dane finalized the game 21-14 with jumping cross cut from forehand corner that Lee could not afford to receive.

The second game was balanced till 10-10, where Viktor kept attacking, and Lee displayed his standard defense as usual. Viktor showed aggressively his attacking ability again with 7 consecutive points to lead the score by 17-13, but it would be much likely for him to be a bit nervous to finalize the match in the end of the second game. Viktor might remind that he was defeated by Lee at Round 2 of the YONEX Open Japan in 2012. The king of badminton Lee suddenly changed his pace, entered top gear, and reversed the game by 19-21 with his trademark light-footed performance.

Some of the spectators, especially Malayan fans in the stadium, expected LCW's seventh victory at the DAIHATSU YONEX JAPAN OPEN 2017, however the great Malaysian made a couple of unforced errors at the beginning of the final game and allowed Viktor lead easily to 0-5. Viktor has showed the super receiving technique as Lee did. After he received Lee's strong smash with his long reach, he sometimes displayed counter attacking and then net kills to lead at the interval. At 9-19 behind, Lee appeared more with his blistering attack and came back with his all efforts as a professional showmanship to 14-20, but the time was too late. Viktor raised his arms to the crowd soon after.

The bronze medalist of Rio Olympics Axelsen became the first champion of the JAPAN OPEN, and engraved his name on the history of the tournament with the great Danish players. Axelsen said "I respect Lee Chong Wei a lot. He has won so many tournaments and I have only beaten him twice." He also added that he would like to perform well in the coming Denmark Open in October, as it will be held in his home country."
At the interview Lee Chong Wei answered "I am pleased to be here, the center court of Japan Open and enjoyed much. I hope I will come back again to the fans."

Carolina Marin(ESP) 2 (23-21, 21-12) 0 He Bingjiao (CHN)

This was a match between WR.5 Spanish player Marin and WR.7 Chinese player He Bingjao.
Physically Marin, who had won up to finals giving no game to opponents and could have one day rest due to the walkover of Japanese Okuhara, had a bit advantage.

In the first game, both Marin and Bingjiao hit amazing cross kill shots to the side lines which attracted all spectators in the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium. Until 12-9, Bingjao led the game. However Marin persistently caught her up and turned the table to 12-14. Then the game became seesawed till end. The end of the game was so dramatic. At the point of 20-19, when Binjao took game point, the shuttle dropped close to the side line. The service judge declared 'out' and game seemed to be closed to Bingjao. However then, Marin asked for ' challenge ', and it became successful. The judge was changed to ' in' and game score became 20-20. It was the moment when Marin grasped the flow of the game today. Marin won the first game at 23-21.

As the second game started, Marin seemed to be completely confident of her victory today. She switched her gear to the top, move forward aggressively and hit lots of kill shots to the side lines. Bingjao could do nothing but defense and she seemed to be overwhelmed by her opponent. Although Bingjao managed to earn 7 points from 18-4 to 18-9 and 19-9 to 20-12, Marin swept Binjao at 21-12.

In the press interview after the match, Marin said ' It was a tough match today. Bingjao was very strong and I focused on taking the first game. After the Rio Olympic Games, I had difficulty in adjusting my condition and had been away from the titles. I had been trying to find why I couldn't win the victory even when I could advance to finals, and I learned a lot from my errors. Now I come to know that showing my confidence that I am stronger than you and losing the opponent's fighting spirit is the key to win. I think I have been in good condition here in Japan and I am very glad to win the title this time.'

Marcus Fernaldi Gideon & Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo (INA) 2 (21-12, 21-15) 0 Takuto Inoue & Yuki Kaneko (JPN)

Japanese duo of Inoue & Kaneko, who emerged today as the finalist of Super Series tournament for their first time, challenged Indonesian Marcus & Kevin, 3 times titlist of Super Series this year. At the semi finals yesterday, Marcus & Kevin dazzled almost perfectly the BWF #1 ranked Danish pair by their combination of nimble shots, powerful/various directed smashes and quick drive shots etc..

In the first game, Japanese pair seemed to start with much tension, while Indonesian relaxed to play aggressively. The score moved almost one-sided by 6-1, 7-3 and 11-6 at the interval. Time to time Kevin showed his talent of quick touch with good anticipation and Marcus stroked steep high jumping smashes. Inoue/Kaneko could not adjust the pace against the dazzling returns from the opponent who were cool enough to receive any shots by Japanese. The first game finished by 21-12.
The situation did not change in the second game. At the beginning of the game, Kevin' unexpected cross return drive shot and non touched ace of service return near the net, facilitated the all spectators. On the contrary, Japanese duo sometimes made the unforced errors of service return which gave more relief to Indonesian. Japanese were led by 11-6 at the interval. Though Japanese pair took another 9 points to 15 at the closing of the game in the latter half, they were almost gifts by some unforced errors.
In reality, almost all the rallies were controlled by Indonesian and Japanese had nothing to resist the victory of the opponent.

After winning of the match, Kevin and Marcus expressed frankly their gladness, because they could not take the Super Series title in the past 5 months. They also added playing well is the first priority, after then, if BWF ranking would go up, it will be more than happy. Therefore, they will play their best for coming Denmark and French Open.
Kaneko answered to the media that they believed not having tension so much, but the cause of their defeat was simply their lack of real ability. Inoue said he was regret that they could not deal with counter party' pace. However, they themselves are honored to be runner-up of Japan Open this time and hope to be # 1 among the Japanese Men's duos in the coming All Japan tournament in December. (s)

Misaki Matsutomo/Takahashi Ayaka(JPN) 2 (21-18,21-16) 0 Kim Ha Na/ Kong Hee Yong (KOR)

It was a highlight of the women's doubles game fought between Olympic gold medalists and fresh pair who had come up from qualifying round.
Matsutomo/Takahashi yesterday said they were looking forward to fighting against Kim who they had seen as one of the top Women's and Mixed doubles player for long time.
Both pairs consist of players, one of which are talented at playing at the forecourt and the others have strong attacking strokes from the back-court. Also, both teams have excellent defense abilities.
It was easily expected that the match would be breathtaking with long rallies.

As the first game started, each rallies became so long. All players rapidly moved from corner to corner and kept persistent defense and powerful attacking offense. Matsutomo/Takahashi led the game until 13-12, however then Kim/Kong earned 4 consecutive points to 16-12. Matsutomo/Tahakashi became more focused, didn't miss a slight chance, and closed the game, 21-18.

In the second game, we saw Matsutomo/Takahashi's skillful change of their strategy. They delivered shuttles to different course from the first game which succeeded to be out-of-reach shots. Also Matsutomo started to move forward to make their strongest formation. It was successful to force Kim/Kong to play defensively. Even when Matsutomo/Takahashi were in defensive situation, their receives were so stable as if there were few chance to defeat. In addition, Kong seemed to be so pressurized that she made several errors at the last stage of the game. Matsutomo/Takahashi closed the game 21-16.

Although Kim/Kong lost today, we felt that we would see them ranked among the top-level pairs in the near future.

In the press interview Matsutomo/Takahashi said, ' We are very glad to win the title here in Japan for the first time in three years. We are confident that we have improved our ability after the Rio Olympic Games. We knew Kim is excellent player and 20 year-old Kong is so powerful, but we thought we could win. Also today we could play what we want. We have won titles nine times in Super Series, but compared with Lee Chong Wei, who have won more than 40 titles, it is not satisfactory results. We want to continue to aim for records from now on.'

Wang Yilyu & Huang Dongping (CHN) 2(21-13, 21-8)0 Takuro Hoki & Sayaka Hirota (JPN)

To these four young players from Japan and China, the finals of Daihatsu Yonex Japan Open 2017, would be a golden opportunity to show their different performance than usual. Having won through the qualifications, Hoki and Hirota have performed giant killings against more-experienced pairs from Malaysia, Hong Kong, and India. Also, Wang and Huang have defeated top mixed doubles pairs in the world, Lu Kai & Huang Yaqiong from China seeded as No.1 in this tournament, and Praveen Jordan & Debby Susanto from Indonesia.

Both pairs kept the shots low and sharp in an aggressive way from the beginning of the 1st game. Though Hoki earned the score by using his steep and well-controlled smashes at first, Japanese pair made several unforced errors of returning the opponents' continuous quick attacks. Led by Chinese pair at the interval 11-6, Wang made a strategic change in the speed of rallies by showing short drive shots and quick drop shots to the front of the opponents' court, leading to a great chance to get points by Huang. As she moved so fast to take a shuttle and showed a quick change in offence and defence, Chinese pair did a swift attack and got this game by 21-13.

The 2nd game also went on as Chinese pair wished, always leading the score by keeping various attacks by Wang from the rear court and making a good use of the opportunities by Huang at the front. Though Hoki and Hirota also tried to keep a continuous offensive style, they missed the last shots in the rallies when deciding the points. Even after the interval 11-4 led by China, as this game was getting closer to the end, Wang was more likely to keep hitting the smashes and put an end to this match by 21-8, with their first Super Series title ever.

Chinese pair made a comment at the court in the winner interview "This is the first World Super Series title for us, so we are very happy about this result. Also I really appreciate Chinese fan supporting us a lot.", and at the press conference "We could play very comfortably in this DYJO 2017, thanks to all of the staff." Wang said "We still have lots more to work on to be top players in the mixed doubles, but there would be not so big difference in technique but in the amount of experience on a court between top Chinese pairs and us." And Huang said "The goal is to become a number 1, so I will keep practicing hard."

Japanese pair commented on the press conference "We were glad to play in the final today, but also disappointed at the result. As Chinese pair kept an offensive style all the time, we just did return the shots, eventually being overwhelmed by the opponents' momentum. From now on, we respectively focus on MD and WD, but also join some tournaments of WBF Super Series in XD."

Closing Remarks

We hope you have enjoyed reading our articles about the matches and first hand players comments for last 5 days and today.

We would like to thank you for your continued supports and encouragement on behalf of all players and the staff of Nippon Badminton Association.

Good Bye and Sayonara!!
See you again at Japan Open 2018 in Tokyo from 11 to 16th September, 2018

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