The Japanese doing the business in Nanjing, China (Photo: Badminton Photo)
China and Japan share the doubles domination
Date: 8/4/2018 5:14 PM
Published by : Alan Raftery
The China-Japan or ‘Sino-Nippon’ dominance in this year’s World Championship doubles events is plain to see. With nine out of the twelve semi-finalists hailing from these two Badminton-playing nations. 

However, it was Hong Kong who gate crashed the Chinese Mixed Doubles party, with Tang Chun Man and Tse Ying Suet completing the quartet with the three other China pairs. Although, second seeds Wang Yilyu and Huang Dongping were just too strong on the day and reached the final in swift fashion, 21-6, 21-10.  It has to be noted that Hong Kong, with a population of 7 million, continues its remarkable tradition of producing top Mixed Doubles pairs with 2 bronze medals in as many years. 

Following this, an all-China final was guaranteed. Zhang Nan and Li Yinhui battled hard against the number one seeds Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong, even grinding out the first game. But it was one-way traffic after this, and the match ended 19-21, 21-12, 21-10.

The final will be a first versus second seeds match that guarantees smiles and cheers for the home fans in Nanjing, China. 

I ask again. How good is this Japanese squad?
In late May I wrote about Japan’s women dominating and winning the 2018 BWF Uber Cup (link above). With the Women’s Doubles not dropping a single game throughout that tournament. It is therefore no surprise that today we see 3 out of the 4 women’s doubles pairs in the semi-finals are from Japan.
The first semi-final featured the 11th seeds Mayu Matsumoto and Wakana Nagahara against the 5th seed Indonesians Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu. The Indonesians were fresh from their giant killing of number one seeds and reigning world champions Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan in the quarter-finals. But the Japanese pair were a step too far, as the match came to a climax in the second game, where it was third match point lucky for Matsumoto and Nagahara, winning 21-12, 23-21.

The second semi-final was an all-Japanese affair, with the second and fourth seeds facing off. And it was the higher ranked pair and last year’s silver medallists, Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota who were victorious, and now will fight for one better this year, the gold. Their semi-final against compatriots Shiho Tanaka and Koharu Yonemoto took place with little drama, finishing 21-19, 21-15.

The final, much like the Mixed Doubles, will be a one nation match. With this being the first time, a non-Chinese pair wins the title since 1995. And furthermore, only the second Japanese pair to take gold since the first ever World Championships in 1977. So, who will be making history?

Japan vs China
In the Men’s Doubles, a more balanced China versus Japan final was on the cards. The first semi-final included perhaps the biggest revelation at these World Championships, the 14th seeds from Taiwan, Chen Hung-Ling and Wang Chi-Lin. This pair perhaps could be described as a ‘nearly pair’. Consistently giving top seeds tough matches over the years, but often coming short. This time, it was not the case, and their solid game plan flourished, while top seeds playing against them perished. However, the bronze medallists from last year, energetic Japanese duo of Takeshi Kamura and Keigo Sonoda, proved too much to handle for the Taiwanese pair, with the match ending 21-17, 21-10.

In the other semi-final, it was an all-Chinese battle, between the second and fourth seeds. The reigning World Champions, Liu Cheng and Zhang Nan, were hunting for their second gold medal back to back. Their claim to this improved drastically when favourites and number one seeds Kevin Sukamuljo and Marcus Gideon were knocked out by Kamura and Sonoda in the quarter-finals. But standing in their way to the final, were Asian Champions Li Junhui and Liu Yuchen, who were victorious against their higher ranked countrymen in their last three encounters. And it was indeed this tall pair who did the business again, reaching the final in a convincing 2 game match, 21-15, 21-13.

Find all the matches for finals day at Total BWF World Championships here.

Find the live stream of the finals day at the Badmintonworldtv channel here.

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