Denmark Open: ‘Arctic Outing’ Sparks Iwanaga/Nakanishi

A semifinal finish at last week’s Arctic Open, their first in two years, meant Rin Iwanaga and Kie Nakanishi arrived in Odense for the VICTOR Denmark Open 2023 in buoyant mood.

And the world No.16 pair have so far managed to translate those good vibes into top performances on the courts of Jyske Bank Arena, qualifying for the first back-to-back semifinals of their partnership on Friday by knocking out sixth seeds Zhang Shu Xian/Zheng Yu in an absorbing 83-minute battle.

“We had found it hard to beat the top-ranked players. It was good to win a tight match this time,” said Nakanishi after the 17-21 21-18 23-21 result.

“This was triggered by being among the best four in Vantaa (Finland), we were confident we could do it here. In the past, we conceded points when under pressure from attacks. This time, we were able to successfully transition from defence to offence.”

Iwanaga added: “We talked about enjoying the challenge. Previously, nerves got the better of me in close matches but I could hit my shots with confidence (today).”

This is Nakanishi/Iwanaga’s first Super 750 semifinal.

Their run into the semis has landed Iwanaga/Nakanishi a fourth meeting with top seeds Chen Qing Chen/Jia Yi Fan. The Japanese are yet to defeat the world No.1s.

“I think we have a chance,” Nakanishi said confidently. “As they are a left hand-right hand combo, they are always able to cover most areas of the court. We want to break through that, develop our own game and take advantage when presented with opportunities.”

Following two straight games losses, Iwanaga/Nakanishi stretched Chen and Jia during their last encounter, taking a game in the 54-minute tussle in July’s Korea Open quarterfinals. Iwanaga believes they are getting closer to challenging the top pairs.

“The gap is narrowing, we have a chance if we consistently achieve results at future tournaments,” said Iwanaga.

Iwanaga/Nakanishi have only contested one final on the HSBC BWF World Tour – the then Super 500 HYLO Open in 2021 – which they lost to compatriots Chisato Hoshi/Aoi Matsuda.

They also picked up a silver medal at the Asia Championships last year. Incidentally, the winners in Manila were Chen and Jia.

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