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Kumiko Ogura speaks! The charm and highlights of "DAIHATSU YONEX JAPAN OPEN 2017 BADMINTON CHAMPIONSHIPS"

Japan Open, a tournament happening for its 36th time since 1982, is well known as a world tournament organised within the country. This year, with the addition of Daihatsu as its sponsor, the tournament name will be changed to "DAIHATSU YONEX JAPAN OPEN 2017 BADMINTON CHAMPIONSHIPS". So this time, we have invited Kumiko Ogura, a player experienced with the Japan Open to talk about the charm and highlights of this tournament.


"DAIHATSU YONEX JAPAN OPEN 2017 BADMINTON CHAMPIONSHIPS" is a world tournament recognized by the Badminton World Federation (BWF), and is the highest ranking badminton tournament held within Japan. It is a special existence to us Japanese people and even those players that are active on the world stage feel that they wish to display a good performance in front of the Japanese fans. It seems to me that that most players are able to produce better plays here than in an overseas tournament. Even for me too, I managed to get to Best 4 when I was still an active player and I felt that I was able to produce a different kind of strength, I believe that I felt the weight in every single play I made as I fought.

*Photo was taken during the tournament in 2016.

As a player that represents Japan, we shoulder many things when we play such as responsibilities and the support from our fans. However, instead of acting as pressure, they become our strength. For Japanese players, I believe that this tournament is indeed a special one where we fight at "home".

Also, while the tournament currently belongs to the "Super Series" rank, it will be upgraded to "Super Series Premier", a rank just after the Olympics and the World Championship. The tournament will become more attractive internationally and it will become a high level one with participation by droves of world rankers.

What are the highlights of the tournament this time?

The highlight this time is the serious battles between world level players who are in fact anticipating the Tokyo Olympics three years from now. Apart from Japan, there will be many top level players from all over the world who are participating in this tournament, and I believe that incredibly high level battles will unfold. Since this tournament is the start line aiming towards the Olympics, it will be great for Badminton fans to start following their players from this point onwards. I think there is also enjoyment in watching how the players grow during the next three years till the Olympics.

If there is anyone who will be watching a Badminton match live for the first time, there are some pointers that I would like to recommend. Matches are filmed from the front for telecasts, but if possible, watch the match from the sides of the court. It will be possible to feel the high quality of each play such as the speed of the shuttle, shots that are barely above the net and more. Also, please enjoy the the "sounds". The sound of a smash, the breathing of the players, and a sense of presence that can be felt with the ears exist as well. In addition, the tactics employed by the players are worth watching as well. The players change their gestures and expressions based on how the match turns out. From this, you can see not just the techniques, but also the intricate psychological tactics in play.

Featured players of this tournament?

The favourite for the Men's Singles is LEE Chong Wei (Malaysia). Including last year, he is a player that has won this tournament six times and he simply radiates an aura of presence. His every single play is smooth, beautiful and his elegant footwork is something I never get sick of watching. He even has a pleasant character and is thus loved but people not just from Malaysia, but also throughout the world. Another contender is LIN Dan (China) who has many fans from Japan. If a battle between him and LEE Chong Wei materializes, a battle at the summit of the world shall unfold in Japan. As for Japanese players, Kazumasa SAKAI, Kenta NISHIMOTO and Kanta TSUNEYAMA who have been growing remarkably are the ones to watch.

For the Women's Singles, the level is extremely competitive at the world stage. It is not surprising to see anyone win in this battlefield. While the favourite is TAI Tzu Ying from Taiwan, who is number one in world ranking, we have high expectations from Akane YAMAGUCHI and Nozomi OKUHARA from Japan as well. Especially YAMAGUCHI, who has evolved a step and polished her senses after the Rio Olympics is the one to pay attention to. As for OKUHARA, if she is able to display her inherent perseverance, I believe she will be able to force her way into the top ranks.

In the Men's Doubles, we have high expectations for the Keigo SONODA and Takeshi KAMURA pair, often called "Sono-Kamu". Playing mostly close to the ground, it is definitely worth watching their plays filled with high speed and intense pressure. As they are the ones that will be leading the Japan team, I hope that they will do their very best. Also, pay attention to Marcus Fernaldi GIDEON and Kevin Sanjaya SUKAMULJO from Indonesia. Since long ago, Indonesian players have always been strong with their attack and defence close to the net, and these two have inherited that as well. Apart from the obviously high technicality, the mental aspect required for this play is also very high. Hence, I believe that they will be powerful rivals with the "Sono-Kamu" pair.

*Photo was taken during the tournament in 2016.

The contenders for the champion for the Women's Doubles are Ayaka TAKAHASHI and Misaki MATSUTOMO, or the "Taka-Matsu" pair. They possess a stable strength but I believe that their plays have been intensively studied after the Rio Olympics by other world players and thus, they will not let the pair win that easily. Another pair to pay attention to is Vivian HOO and WOON Khe Wei from Malaysia. The tall and imposing Vivian stands at the front, and I think this gives the opponents quite the pressure.

The featured players of the Mixed Doubles category are the pair Liu Ying GOH and CHAN Peng Soon from Malaysia and Indonesia's Liliyana NATSIR and Tontowi AHMAD pair. Liliyana's powerful play is especially overwhelming. She is able to read the shuttle very quick and also has outstanding techniques. From Japan, I believe Yuta WATANABE and Arisa HIGASHINO will be competing, but as they have only paired up recently, I am not sure if they will be able to join the fight for the championship. That said, if HIGASHINO is able to keep up with WATANABE's inherently tricky plays, I think it will get interesting. HIGASHINO plays at the front, which is rare for a female player. Her powerful plays and great agility allows her to make the game, and thus I think this pair is also one to look out for.

*As this interview was conducted prior to the decision made during the selections, there may be differences to the actual participating players.

Let's meet at the venue on the day of the tournament!

The Japan Open possesses a unique atmosphere and coolness. The dimmed lights in the venue, the court lighted up by the spot lights and the battles that unfold under these lights are performances unique to this tournament. With the entire venue showed up, it feels as though we are watching an exquisite live sports entertainment. Also, the distance between the players and the audiences is short, thus watching the world's top players up close is possible. Whether you are a long time Badminton fan or a beginner whose interest spiked recently from the Rio Olympics, during this opportunity where the tournament is held in Japan, do come down to the venue to enjoy the experience that cannot be felt through the television screen, but only possible when watched live.
If you watch the match live at the venue, your impression towards Badminton will change immensely.
Of course, on the day of the tournament, I will be present as well. Please do come down to the venue to watch the tournament. See you there in September!

*Photo was taken during the tournament in 2016.


Dates 19 September 2017 (Tues) - 24 September 2017 (Sun)
Venue Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium, Tokyo
Organized by Nippon Badminton Association (NBA)
Officially Recognized by Badminton World Federation (BWF)
Managed by Tokyo Metropolitan Badminton Association
Supported by Tokyo
Main Sponsorship Daihatsu Motor Co., Ltd / Yonex Co., Ltd
In Cooperation with Baseball Magazine Sha Co., Ltd
Event Categories Men's Singles / Men's Doubles / Women’s Singles / Women's Doubles / Mixed Doubles

Kumiko Ogura (Ex Japan Representative for Women's Badminton)

Born in year 1983 in Mie prefecture. She starts playing Badminton at the age of 8. In year 2000, she achieves 1st runner up for the High School Nationals and in year 2001, achieves 1st runner up for the National High School Selections. After joining Sanyo Electric in year 2002, she emerges as champion for the All Japan Badminton Championship Singles. She switches to be a Doubles player subsequently, and achieves 5th place for the Beijing Olympics and 5 consecutive champion for the All Japan Badminton Championship. She retires in January 2010.

To the Official Website
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