The 2021 world champions had blown four match points against the Chinese in the semifinals of the TotalEnergies BWF Sudirman Cup 2023 in May, squandering a historic opportunity to beat the powerhouses at home.
The Japanese were on fire today, piling all the pressure on Ou Xuan Yi, who appeared rattled with the Chinese slipping in the contest. Liu attempted to inspire a revival, and the Chinese saved five match points, but the effort was belated, and the delighted Japanese celebrated their entry into the final in just 37 minutes. Hoki and Kobayashi will attempt on Sunday to come the first home pair to win a Japan Open men’s doubles title in the 47-year history of the event.
Japan had more reason to celebrate later in the day with Yuta Watanabe/Arisa Higashino repeating their 2022 semifinal win over world champions Zheng Si Wei/Huang Ya Qiong. Unlike last year, today’s was a comprehensive defeat, 21-18 21-17, with Watanabe sensational in creating the openings and firing winners.
With Dechapol Puavaranukroh/Sapsiree Taerattanachai beating Feng Yan Zhe/Huang Dong Ping in the other semifinal, 21-10 19-21 21-19, Sunday’s title clash will feature non-Chinese pairs, a rarity at the top level in recent mixed doubles.
Meanwhile, An Se Young continued to march ahead in her history-making quest as she reached her 10th final of the year in 11 tournaments. The Korean once again proved unbreakable against Tai Tzu Ying, beating the former No.1 for the fourth consecutive time. An will be up against 2016 champion He Bing Jiao, who is looking for her first title since October 2022.
The men’s singles final will see Viktor Axelsen in the hunt for his fourth title this year. The Dane outgunned home hope Kodai Naraoka in straight games; up next is Indonesia Masters champion Jonatan Christie, who hasn’t beaten Axelsen in their last four encounters.
In women’s doubles, Chen Qing Chen/Jia Yi Fan made their year’s fifth final, where they face Kim So Yeong/Kong Hee Yong. Both pairs subdued Japanese opposition – Yuki Fukushima/Sayaka Hirota and Mayu Matsumoto/Wakana Nagahara respectively.