Saturday, May 25, 2019
TEXT BY GAYLE ALLEYNE | BADMINTONPHOTO
Japan’s head coach Park Joo Bong tonight vowed his players will go “all out” to claim their nation’s first-ever Sudirman Cup honour in tomorrow’s grand finale of the World Mixed Team Championship.
Speaking in the wake of the top seeds’ semifinal dismantling of Indonesia – 3-1 in Nanning, China – he told media that Japan has improved round by round in this week’s TOTAL BWF Sudirman Cup 2019. Now, Park hopes they can bring their best in the championship decider.
“China are the toughest opponent. I think their play has been perfect. Our players’ performance has also been improving and our target is the first-ever championship in the Sudirman Cup.
“Tomorrow, we will go all out and try to play our best against China,” he said recalling semifinal and final losses to China in the last two Sudirman Cup editions.
Moments earlier, the Japanese had confirmed their much-anticipated appointment with the hosts. Recovering from the early loss of men’s doubles, they dominated both singles matches and then women’s doubles in straight games, with world champions Mayu Matsumoto/Wakana Nagahara wresting the decisive point at Guangxi Sports Centre Gymnasium.
The latter bashed their way to a 21-15 21-17 victory over an inconsistent Greysia Polii/Apriyani Rahayu, blending resolute defence with crushing attacks; Matsumoto being particularly severe in her smashing.
“This was our first match of the tournament,” noted Nagahara. “We are very happy we could win the point that sends Japan to the final.”
Her partner was already thinking about the title showdown against their perennial rivals who will have the entire stadium backing them.
“We played against China at the World Championships and we will be playing against them again tomorrow. We are full of confidence right now and I’m prepared for a tough battle,” declared Matsumoto.
Singles Players Star
Meanwhile, Akane Yamaguchi and Kento Momota collected the other two points for Japan with reasonably comfortable successes against Gregoria Mariska Tunjung (21-13 21-13) and Anthony Sinisuka Ginting (21-17 21-19) respectively. The latter has earned his fair share of bragging rights over world No.1 Momota, with some notable wins, but that would not be the case today despite Ginting’s sterling efforts to try and wriggle free in the second game. The same could not be said of Tunjung who again appeared far from her best as Yamaguchi sped to a 10-1 lead in the first game and never looked back. A rare smile broke out on the diminutive dynamo’s face as she acknowledged her teammates’ noisy cheers as she drew Japan level 1-1.
Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo earned the sole point for Indonesia in the opening men’s doubles match. Despite the energetic efforts of Takeshi Kamura and Keigo Sonoda, the prevailing sense was that the Indonesians had the measure of their arch-rivals and could raise their level whenever danger lurked – and so it proved. Kamura and Sonoda’s best just wasn’t good enough as the world No.1 duo eased to victory 21-14 21-18 in 43 minutes.