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DAIHATSU YONEX JAPAN OPEN 2018
BADMINTON CHAMPIONSHIPS

Kumiko OGURA’s On-the-Ground Report!
DAIHATSU YONEX JAPAN OPEN
2018
BADMINTON CHAMPIONSHIPS

  • Date:Tuesday 11 - Sunday 16 September, 2018
  • Venue:Musashino Forest Sport Plaza (Chofu city, Tokyo)

The DAIHATSU YONEX JAPAN OPEN 2018 BADMINTON CHAMPIONSHIPS had been held over 6 days since September 11.
This year, the championships was renewed to become a world class international badminton tournament exclusively featuring the players ranked within the top 32 in the world, while the venue was moved to the Musashino Forest Sport Plaza, where the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will also be held.
The former female Japanese national badminton player Kumiko OGURA reported on this tournament that would serve as a prelude to TOKYO 2020.

The Japan Open 2018 held in the venue for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

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The Japan Open was graded up to the level of BWF World Tour Super 750 this year, becoming one of the world’s best international tournaments. It must be a dream for badminton fans in Japan to be able to see the top, world class athletes at a high-level international tournament.
The venue for this year, the Musashino Forest Sport Plaza, is no doubt among the very best gymnasiums in the world at present. The predominantly black interior makes it easy for the shuttle to be seen. Despite the high roof, there is no strong wind flow and it definitely is an ideal environment for the players to play in.
It fills me with anticipation to think that the Tokyo Olympics will be held in 2 years time at a such excellent gymnasium. As a Japanese, I feel proud of it.

How were the promising Japanese players' game, what were results?

MOMOTA - Unrivaled in the Men’s Singles

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MOMOTA - Unrivaled in the Men’s Singles

Kento MOMOTA was simply sensational at this tournament, performing in all his matches. His receiving in particular was excellent. The rallies last long in this tournament, so it often became a battle of wills, and in these situations it is important to grab your chances. MOMOTA was able to play patiently without losing his composure, so he continued the rallies even at times when it looked like he could hit a winner. He waited for the moments to attack when his chances of winning were highest. To pull off this kind of play, you need to have patience and physical toughness, as well as a calm mentality. MOMOTA fulfilled his potential to realize it at this tournament. In the final he overwhelmed Khosit PHETPRADAB from Thailand in straight sets. He successfully won his first Japan Open title. There is much expectation that MOMOTA will evolve even further towards 2020.

A Regrettalle Second Place Finish in the Women’s Singles

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A Regrettalle Second Place Finish in the Women’s Singles

Nozomi OKUHARA lost to last year’s champion Carolina MARIN (Spain) in the final, but I thought her condition was good throughout the tournament. OKUHARA wasn’t bad, but it just means that MARIN was even better. The key point was the 1st game in the final. The fact that she dropped this close contest was the most important moment in the match. At the end of the 1st game, it was concerning that OKUHARA started to lose her breath during the long rallies. Although she is a player with good footwork, she ran out of steam and slowed down a bit, so MARIN took full advantage. Maybe her fatigue from the consecutive matches since the 1st round took its toll. Her challenge from now on is to gain the stamina to be able to last during consecutive matches and long rallies.

Hope for the Future in the Men’s Doubles

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Hope for the Future in the Men’s Doubles

There was a lot of expectation for the Sono-Kamu pair of Keigo SONODA and Takeshi KAMURA, who came up against the South Korean pair of KIM Won Ho and SEO Seung Jae in the 2nd round. They unfortunately couldn’t get past the Korean iron wall of defense and lost the match. The Sono-Kamu pair’s strengths are their ability in low flying battles, their fast tempo and their skill at anticipating the game, but this time they were blocked by the solid defensive game that the South Koreans are renowned for. The reason they lost was their inability to attack effectively enough. The pair can grasp the pace of the match if they can attack with good rhythm at a fast tempo, so I hope they can keep working hard towards their next challenge.

The Fuku-Hiro Pair Grasped a Brilliant Victory in the Women’s Doubles

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The Fuku-Hiro Pair Grasped a Brilliant Victory in the Women’s Doubles

The victorious Fuku-Hiro pair of Yuki FUKUSHIMA and Sayaka HIROTA have always been able to play with toughness and patience, so it suited them well to have many long rallies in each match like they had in this tournament. In particular their semi-final against the Indonesian pair had many long rallies that became a real arm wrestle, which they somehow managed to win through sheer determination. Both their offense and defense sparkled in the final, where they had good rhythm in each play from start to finish and didn’t allow their opponents to attack. The variation of their attacks was also great. They didn’t just rely on smashes and instead they used drop shots effectively. Their opponents must have felt helpless. It was a brilliant victory.

The WATANABE/HIGASHINO Pair Competed Well in the Mixed Doubles

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The WATANABE/HIGASHINO Pair Competed Well in the Mixed Doubles

The final of the mixed doubles was a battle between Chinese pairs, but there was also a match between Japanese pairs in the 3rd round. Last year’s finalist Takuro HOKI formed a pair with Koharu YONEMOTO, who played the pair of Yuta WATANABE and Arisa HIGASHINO who won the All England Open. In the end it was the pair of WATANABE and HIGASHINO who triumphed in this all Japanese contest. However, in the end they eventually lost to the Chinese pair of WANG Yilyu and HUANG Dongping in the semi-final. It seemed like they were overwhelmed by the opposing pair’s speed when getting forward and their powerful play. Still, I think there is no doubt that the ability of the WATANABE/HIGASHINO pair has reached a world class level. Their recent development has been particularly noteworthy. They have become a pair that we can now always expect to be amongst the top 4 in the world.

Interviews with the Winners

Kento MOMOTA (Men’s Singles Champion)

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I didn’t think I could return here 3 years ago, so I am really grateful that I was able to come back to this place. I’m so glad that I was able to show everyone how much I have developed in that time. I was able to win the first tournament held at the venue that will be used at the Olympics in 2 years time, so this gymnasium has become auspicious for me. My goal is the Olympics of course, but I won't look too far ahead and will focus on the next match and work hard at what I can do.

Yuki FUKUSHIMA / Sayaka HIROTA Pair (Women’s Doubles Champions)

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Our opponents in the final defeated us at the Asian Games, so we went onto the court to beat them. It became a battle of endurance, but we are relieved that we were able to win. We were able to get the victory thanks to the cheering from the fans, so we hope we can continue our momentum for our next challenge. (FUKUSHIMA)

At the Asian games we had to receive a lot in response to the other pair’s fast touches, but this time we were able to turn our receiving into attacking as well. The Japan Open is a tournament that we were looking forward to, so it was truly special to be able to win this tournament in our home country. (HIROTA)

Marcus F GIDEON / Kevin S SUKAMULJO (Men’s Doubles Champions)

It was truly great to be able to win the tournament held in the country of our main sponsor (YONEX). We have played against the pair we faced in the final many times, but I think we were able to win because we played with more confidence. This is a magnificent gymnasium with a great atmosphere, so we were able to play our matches with calmness. (Interpreter)

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Final Match List
Category Player name Match results
Men's Singles Kento MOMOTA (Japan) 2-0 Khosit PHETPRADAB (Thailand) 21-14,21-11
Women's Singles Carolina MARIN (Spain) 2-1 Nozomi OKUHARA (Japan) 21-19,17-21,21-11
Men's Doubles Marcus F GIDEON / Kevin S SUKAMULJO (Indonesia) 2-0 LI Junhui / LIU Yuchen (China) 21-11,21-13
Women's Doubles Yuki FUKUSHIMA / Sayaka HIROTA (Japan) 2-0 CHEN Qingchen / JIA Yifan (China) 21-15,21-12
Mixed Doubles ZHENG Siwei / HUANG Yaqiong (China) 2-0 WANG Yilyu / HUANG Dongping (China) 21-19,21-8

The Japan Open Takes A Step Forward as the Tournament Reaches a New Level

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Along with the level of the tournament rising to Super 750, I have the impression that the Japan Open in general has become a globally prestigious event. The level of the players was higher of course, but I also felt that the atmosphere at the venue and the production was also a cut above previous Japan Open tournaments.
To give one example, for the scene when the players entered the venue there was a spotlight to highlight each of them, as if a star was emerging on stage. This kind of production was really fun to watch and the spectators truly enjoyed it. This definitely raised the motivation for the players too. The top ranked players in particular were lit up on center court after a spectacular entrance, so they must have felt motivated to put in even more effort than usual because of the sense that all the spectators were there to see them play.

There were many events held on the last day before the final.
Primary school players were invited to play an exhibition match with Japanese national team players. It was a great initiative to invite children to a venue that is hosting a global tournament like this, and it gave the kids something to dream about. They must have enjoyed being able to play with the stars who they admire so much, on the center court of a venue that all badminton players dream about reaching. It would have created the memories of a lifetime. I actually had the chance to play with my own idol Kimiko JINNAI when I was a junior, which is a great memory that has stayed with me ever since.

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There was also an exhibition of para-badminton by Japanese national players, which displayed a rare chance to see performances by these athletes. For everyone in the audience, this would have helped to promote the Tokyo Paralympics at the same venue in 2 years time.

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On the event days at the venue there was a booth from Daihatsu, the title sponsor of the event, so I stopped by to visit. At the booth they handed out cheering goods as well as paper fans, while they also held events where you could win Japanese national uniforms in a lottery. I felt their passion and love for badminton when I saw the Daihatsu staff distributing cheering goods to the spectators. I believe this kind of support with a human touch is very encouraging for the players as well.

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After the Tournament

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For this year’s Japan Open, its grading as an international tournament went up while the prize money also increased. This is of course a big motivation, but for the players I think there is more meaning in the fact that the points that go towards the world rankings have gone up as well. Looking towards 2020, getting a good result at this tournament to get even just one rank higher would have been an important goal for not only the Japanese players but all the competitors. This is why they all gave such great performances.
The Japan Open will be held at this venue again in 2019. Next year’s tournament will very much serve as a preview for the Olympics, so I’m already looking forward to what kind of contests we will get to see then.

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

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

To the Official Website

DAIHATSU YONEX JAPAN OPEN 2018 BADMINTON CHAMPIONSHIPS
Kumiko OGURA’s On-the-Ground Report! DAIHATSU YONEX JAPAN OPEN 2018 BADMINTON CHAMPIONSHIPS
Japanese Players at the Forefront of the Badminton World -Who are the players Kumiko OGURA will be watching closely at the DAIHATSU YONEX JAPAN OPEN 2018 BADMINTON CHAMPIONSHIPS-
BWF World Tour Super 750 “DAIHATSU YONEX JAPAN OPEN 2018 BADMINTON CHAMPIONSHIPS” -Daihatsu sponsors the Japan Open for the second year in a row-
Tournament Overview/Schedule
HULIC・DAIHATSU Japan Para-Badminton International 2018
Mariko SHINODA’s Report from the HULIC・DAIHATSU Japan Para-Badminton International 2018
HULIC・DAIHATSU Japan Para-Badminton International 2018 Tournament Report
Continuing on from last year, Daihatsu is sponsoring the Para-Badminton International again! “HULIC・DAIHATSU Japan Para-Badminton International 2018”
Tournament Overview/Schedule
TOTAL BWF Thomas & Uber Cup 2018
TOTAL BWF Thomas & Uber Cup 2018 Japanese National Team Players and New Uniform Presentation Press Conference Report