It is Lin Dan versus Viktor Axelsen in men’s singles final in Tokyo on Sunday. In Saturday’s first men’s singles semifinal, China’s no.5 seed Lin Dan fended off Indonesia’s Tommy Sugiarto in two games to prove his long-held superiority. In the other semifinal, Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen also took two sets in beating Taiwan’s Chou Tien Chen. However, the theatrics came from two unseeded and young Japanese women, Akane Yamaguchi and Nozomi Yokuhara. They registered unexpected victories over their rivals in matches exceeding 60 minutes. Yamaguchi fought for 83 minutes against the irrepressible no.7 seeded Chinese Wang Shixian to reach the final. In the other women’s semifinal, Nozomi Okuhara prevailed over Taiwan’s no.4 seed Tai Tzu Ying in 63 minutes. These results ensured that women’s singles final on Sunday would be an all-Japanese affair to the delight of home fans. In a tournament full of huge upsets, only men’s and mixed doubles top seeds could justify their tournament rankings. In Sunday’s finals; men’s doubles top seeds Korea’s Lee Dong Dae/Yoo Yeong Seong will take on China’s no.5 seeds Fi Haifeng/Zhang Nan while the no.1 mixed doubles Chinese team of Zhang Nan/Zhao Yunlei will play with Denmark’s no. 5 seeds Joachim Fischer Nielsen/Christinna Pedersen. On their way to the final, Dae/Seong defeated Indonesia’s Angga Prata/Ricky Karanda Suwardi and Nan/Yunlei prevailed over Korea’s Ko Sung Hyun/Kim Ha Na. Women’s doubles will be played between Denmark’s no.4 seeds Christinna Pedersen/Kamilla Rytter Juhl and no.7 seeded Chinese team of Zhao Yunlei/Zhong Quiaxin.
As per reports available, Lin Dan is training hard for his third consecutive Olympic gold in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. The 2015 Yonex Open Japan could be a precursor to that. The manner, in which Dan disposed of Malaysian superstar Lee Chong Wei in second round, was an ample testimony to his Olympic intentions. On Saturday, Lin Dan defeated Indonesia’s Tommy Sugiarto in the semifinal. In the first game, both players kept trading a one-point lead in turn, until the score reached 14-14. At this point Lin Dan showed his color and controlled the game to clinch the first game. In the second, Sugiarto was the one, who took an early lead but the Chinese neutralized his advantage and grabbed the lead from the Indonesian to end the match with a score of 21-17 21-17. In the final on Sunday, Lin Dan will play against Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen, who defeated Taiwan’s Chou Tien Chen in the other semifinal. Though Axelsen trailed Chou at the start of first game, he squared off with the Taiwanese at halfway stage and narrowly seized the opening game. In the second, the Dane trailed again at the start but once the score reached 7-7, Axelsen gained further lead and cruised to 21-19, 21-13 victory in the end.
Locals heroines Akane Yamaguchi and Nozomi Okuhara won gripping three-game matches against their rivals in women’s singles to set up an intriguing all-Japanese final on Sunday. Such an incident occurred two years ago, when Yamaguchi defeated Shizuka Uchida in an all-Japanese final in 2013. Yamaguchi brought the crowds on the edge of their seats, when she faced China’s Wang Shixian in the semifinal on Saturday. Just as she had done against Li Xuerui in the quarterfinal, the Japanese wore down Wang by mixing fiercely executed smashes with some loopy drop shots. After sharing the first two games, both shuttlers looked determined to seal the final spot. Shixian led all the way in the third game and held two match points at 20-18 after a tremendous rally. But egged on by enthusiastic crow support, Yamaguchi saved both points to equal at 20-20. Then it was Yamaguchi’s controlled net-play that broke Wang Shixian. The tight net shots from the Japanese elicited errors from Shixian. Despite being down on match points on two more occasions. The Japanese kept her nerves and ran away with a 21-12, 15-21, 26-24 victory.
In the other semifinal, Nozomi Okuhara benefitted from unforced errors committed by Taiwan’s Tai Tzu Ying in the first game that the Japanese won 21-12. But Tai bounced back to take the second 21-14, helped by her wider variety of strokes and sharp attacking game. At 18-19 in the third game, a long rally ensued. The Japanese chased the shuttle from every part in her court but Tai lost the point in trying to play a tight net shot. The Japanese won the next two pints to register a deserved 21-12, 14-21, 21-19 victory to set the title clash with Akane Yamaguchi.
Denmark’s Christinna Pedersen will play in two finals on Sunday. In the women’s doubles semifinal, she and her partner Kamilla Rytter Juhl defeated Japan’s Shizuka Matsuo/Mami Naito 21-17, 21-16. For the title game, the Danes will take on no.7 seeded Chinese team of Zhao Yunlei/Zhong Quiaxin, who came through to the final by beating Korea’s Chae Yoo Jung/Kim So Yeong 21-16, 21-13. Pedersen also reached the mixed double final, when she partnered with Joachim Fischer Nielsen to defeat Korea’s Kim Gi Jung/Shin Seung Chan 21-19, 21-16 in the semifinal. For the championship, Pedersen/Nielsen will face China’s no.1 seeds Zhang Nan/Zhao Yunlei, who defeated another Korean pair Ko sung Hyun/Kim Ha Na 21-18, 21-17 in the other semifinal. In men’s doubles final, top seeds Korea’s Lee Dong Dae/Yoo Yeong Seong will play against China’s no.5 seeds Fi Haifeng/Zhang Nan.
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