All England: Japan Dominate Doubles

Japan won both semifinal contests against Denmark in men’s doubles at the YONEX All England Open Badminton Championships 2021, and with the East Asian nation also assuring themselves of the women’s doubles crown, everything went their way on Saturday.

The women’s doubles final will be a repeat of last year’s semifinal, with defending champions Yuki Fukushima/Sayaka Hirota up against world champions Mayu Matsumoto/Wakana Nagahara.

Yuki Fukushima (right) and Sayaka Hirota.

It was in the men’s doubles that Japan’s performance was particularly impressive. Kim Astrup and Anders Skaarup Rasmussen had come in to the All England with the YONEX Swiss Open title under their belt, but Takeshi Kamura and Keigo Sonoda were better on every count. The Japanese were lightning quick around the court, and once they had pulled back from 11-16 in the first, were unstoppable.

Kamura and Sonoda face defending champions Yuta Watanabe and Hiroyuki Endo, who outgunned upcoming pair Jeppe Bay/Lasse Molhede 21-13 21-11.

“In the first game we couldn’t be at our best,” said Kamura. “After that we focused on our serves and receiving, so gradually we could play our style. We could play with a lot of quality. We are meeting our compatriots in the final and we’ll enjoy it. We can enjoy the game. Because they are last year’s champions, we feel it’s a challenge against them.”

Astrup and Rasmussen rued the loss of the first game after leading 16-11.

“We started off very well, we played a good first game. Losing the first game from 16-11 up is not good enough; we have to take advantage of our chances to put extra pressure on our opponents. But overall they played a very good game and made it difficult for us,” said Astrup.

Selena Piek rues a missed point.

In the women’s doubles, Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota looked to be in a spot of bother in the face of a strong challenge from Selena Piek and Cheryl Seinen. The opening game was tight, with several hard-fought rallies, but after a particularly lengthy rally at 17-all that went Japan’s way, the Dutch challenge fell apart. Fukushima and Hirota were all over them in the second, wrapping up the contest 21-17 21-7.

“We couldn’t move well in the beginning. We struggled to receive the crosscourt shots from our opponents but we stayed calm and stuck to our game plan,” said Fukushima, while her partner added that it would be an “honour” to play the final.

Matsumoto and Nagahara joined them in the title round with a 51-minute win over compatriots Nami Matsuyama/Chiharu Shida, 21-19 21-17.

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