Exactly one month after Rio Olympic Games, 2016 Yonex Open Japan began. Players travelled to Tokyo trying to keep up the steam from previous month’s success, or to gain retaliation from their defeats.
One of them being the women’s double Christinna Pedersen/Kamilla Rytter Juhl of Denmark, who, after a lead in the third set (19-16), let the Olympic gold slip right out of their hands and into Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi of Japan’s.
In a tournament where three out of their five matches were in three sets, the Danish pair has, match after match, proved their worth. And it was soon clear that the women’s doubles final would be a repeat of the Olympic final.
Matsutomo and Takahashi were welcomed to their mother country with honour and glory after their Olympic gold, and this tournament was to be a continuation of that celebration.
But Pedersen and Rytter Juhl had a different agenda - in three impressive sets, they managed to turn their previous month’s defeat into triumph: 19-21, 21-18, 21-12.
Finishing 1st at Yonex Open Japan became their first Superseries victory since December 2013, and the joy and cheer was evident.
After finishing second at the world championships last year, second at the Dubai World Superseries Finals, and most recently, second at the Olympics, this victory, on Japanese home turf, must have been a liberation – and a deserved one.
But the Danish women’s double was not the only Danish entry back for more. Jan O Jorgensen left the Rio Olympic Games in disappointment by not succeeding his goals of reaching further than Last 16, now in Tokyo, he was back for more – and more he got.
Well-balanced, Jorgensen found himself, without ever really being in trouble, entering the final and facing the ‘eternal’ Olympic silver medalist, Lee Chong Wei (Malaysia).
But for the sixth time in a row Lee won the men’s singles prize in Japan. The Dane was flying in the second set, but missed some great chances in the third, leading up to an 18-21, 21-15, 16-21 -defeat.
In the semi-final, Jorgensen showed great form beating Korean Son Wan Ho in straight sets, which Olympic bronze medalist, Viktor Axelsen (Denmark), on the other hand, did not manage to do.
Shortly after his defeat in the quarterfinal, Axelsen announced that he needed a short break and would withdraw from Korea Open to travel home instead.
Marc Zwiebler(Pictured to the left) gained momentum and reached the semi-final, where Lee Chong Wei became the last stop on a great tournament for the German.
His fellow countrymen Mark Lamsfuss and Marvin Emil Seidel(pictured to the right) delivered the surprise of the tournament by beating 1st seeds Chai Biao and Hong Wei of China in 34 minutes: 21-17, 21-17.
The men’s doubles’ second seeds almost suffered the same destiny as Chai/Hong, when they were close to losing to England’s Peter Briggs and Tom Wolfenden. But in the end, Mohammad Ahsan/Hendra Setiawan pulled through in an exciting three set-match; 25-27, 21-13, 24-22.
All in all, China’s young delegation had a very successful tournament in Tokyo. It seemed as if the many announced retirements from Chinese stars recently, would mean a break from the big titles for a while.
Zheng Siwei/Chen Qingchen (XD), Li Junhui/Liu Yuchen (MD), and He Bingjiao(WS), all from China, rose to the occasion and proved that they, as a part of the biggest and broadest badminton nation of them all, will continue so by winning the prizes in their respective categories. Leaving three out of three possible in Chinese favor.
The Danish delegation was well represented in all categories, in addition to the wining women’s doubles, Jorgensen, and Axelsen; Christinna Pedersen/Joachim Fischer Nielsen, and Carsten Mogensen/Mathias Boe also reached the quarters, though without succeeding to the next rounds.
Most of the European players, have travelled further to South Korea, where the next Superseries, VICTOR Korea Open, will commence tomorrow at 11 AM local time.
Find the draw for VICTOR Korea Open here