Chinese superstar Lin Dan and Japanese Nozomi Okuhara emerged as singles champions as curtain came down on the BWF world Super-Series tournament, the 2015 Yonex Open Japan on Sunday. The two men and women’s singles champions were joined by Korea’s Lee Yong Dae/Yoo Yeon Seong, China’s Zhao Yunlei/Zhong Qianxin and Denmark’s Joachim Fischer Nielsen/Christinna Pedersen, who won the Men’s Doubles, Women’s Doubles and Mixed Doubles titles respectively. After Lin Dan defeated Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia in the second round, he remained the favorite. For the 20-year old Okuhara, it was the first World Superseries title as she defeated her more favored compatriot Akane Yamaguchi in a rather subdued women’s singles final.
In men’s singles title match, Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen played his fourth Super-series final. The Dane came close to upsetting the Super Dan with a huge lead in the third game, after the first two were squared. The Chinese, however, found his rhythm and clawed back to nullify Axelsen’s advantage in the end. Earlier, after Lin Dan won the first game 21-19, Axelsen came back strongly in the second to win at 21-16. Then the Dane looked well on course for his first ever Super-series win with an 11-3 lead in the decider. Axelsen returned everything that Dan threw at him and punched holes in the defense of the Chinese with big crosscourt smashes. But the experienced Dan arrested the upward progress in Axelsen’s game and edged ahead of him at the right moment. Lin Dan’s net-play and line-hugging volleys flummoxed Axelsen towards the end to win at 21-19, 16-21, 21-19. It was the first Super-series victory for the Chinese this year and first Japan Open Japan title since 2007.
After her great victory over Wang Shixian in the semifinal, Akane Yamaguchi was billed as the favorite to win the 2015 Yonex open Japan. But the all-Japanese final turned into an anti-climax with Nozomi Okuhara assuming control. The first game was closer, in which Yamaguchi put up a superior show and looked like engaging Okuhara in a long match. But once Yamaguchi lost the first game, she faded away in the second. Okuhara’s ceaseless energy wore down Yamaguchi even as she tried to find her rhythm. The first match point came Okuhara’s way after a 32-shot rally. She didn’t waste any time in converting that and won the final 21-18, 21-12.
The Chinese were considered favorites to win the mixed doubles title. But Joachim Fischer Nielsen and Christinna Pedersen had other ideas as they faced the world no.1 Zhang Nan/Zhao Yunlei across the net. The interesting part of the match was; men on either side made errors while the women kept the match alive. Christinna Pedersen was the star of the match and she kept assuring Nielsen, when he made errors. The Danes lost the first game 17-21 but Pedersen’s creativity and tight service brought them back with a 21-18 win in the second. In the third game, Pedersen/Nielsen raced away to a 17-11 lead but Nielsen’s unforced errors at crunch time allowed the Chinese to work their way back into the contest. With match nearing an end, Nielsen faltered again to hand over a match point to the Chinese at 20-19. At this point, Zhao put her service into the net to make the score 20-20. Ironically, Nielsen also served into the net and the Chinese had another chance. But thanks to Pedersen, the Danish pair finally won the match and the title with a 17-21, 21-18, 23-21 score.
In the women’s doubles final, however, Christinna Pedersen couldn’t get so lucky, playing with Kamilla Rytter. The Chinese no.1 seeds Zhao Yunlei/Zhong Qianxin proved too strong for the Danes in winning the match 21-12, 21-16. Men’s doubles final was a dramatic affair in which the Korean top seeds Lee Yong Dae/Yoo Yeon Seong played against China’s no.5 seeds Zhang Nan/Fu Haifeng. After Lee/Yoo won narrowly in the first game, they had a slugfest in the second that seemed to go on and on. After saving a match point at 19-20, the Chinese matched the Koreans stroke for stroke. The Koreans had six more match points but the Chinese saved them to level again and again. Finally, Lee/Yoo won on their eighth match point, when Lee produced a delicate cross at net that caught the Chinese off-guard and Koreans took the men’s doubles title with a 21-19, 29-27 match victory.
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