It’s been two years since Mayu Matsumoto and Wakana Nagahara won a tournament. That was the All England 2021; since then, the two-time world champions have had a somewhat rocky path, with their performances in 2022 being way below their normal stable selves.
Having missed the early season this year due to Nagahara’s Achilles injury, the Japanese duo dropped out of the top 10 for the first time since they broke in during July 2018.
However, the former world No.1 pair are not unduly worried, attributing their slide in rankings and form to Nagahara’s recent troubles with injuries.
“Last year this time I hurt my calf muscle, and earlier this year I injured my Achilles tendon,” said Nagahara. “But I’m fully recovered and ready to go. It’s due to my injuries that we’ve dropped out of the top 10. I missed out on several tournaments, so our seeding came down and we played strong pairs in the early rounds. We are striving to get into the top 8 seedings, and we want to gain as many ranking points as possible.”
Matsumoto was confident they were finding their form once again, and was happy with the opening round today, when they beat Pearly Tan/Thinaah Muralitharan, who’d beaten them in both their previous encounters – at the German Open quarterfinals last week and the French Open 2022, their last final.
“I wouldn’t say we are perfect as of today, but compared to the German Open, we are able to perform better now. Our mental state is good, we persevered until the end. As long as our mental state is positive, we will be stable.”
With pleasant memories of the All England, Matsumoto said they felt a positive vibe on court.
“We were not able to play several events, so it feels like it’s been a while since we played. This arena is very good for us, the air, the environment and the feel of the shuttle. It all feels very good, so I’m glad we are able to play once again at such a big stage.”
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