The semi finals of All Japan Badminton Championships 2016 were held in front of the large audience in the Yoyogi 2nd Gymnasium located nearby the popular Shibuya and Harajuku town in Tokyo. As the roads to the Shibuya station from the Gym and the street of Harajuku were lit up gorgeously, the audience is able to enjoy after watching the exciting matches.
Top and second seeded Nishimoto and Sakai of MS safely proceeded to the final match tomorrow for their first Championship.
The Super Series Champion in H.K. of MD, Sonoda & Kamura will face the new duo of Endo/Watanabe and Taka/Matsu of WD will play against Yonemoto/Tanaka who seems to keep the good condition since the SS in H.K. and today defeated again Fukuman/Yonao who will join SS Final as #5 ranked. The duos of Gondo/Hiorota and Kamura/Yonemoto will compete for the XD Championship.
The full names of players following are for your reference.
Keigo Sonoda & Takeshi Kamura
Hiroyuki Endo & Yuuta Watanabe
Ayaka Takahashi & Misaki Matutomo
Koharu Yonemoto & Shiho Tanaka
Kouhei Gondo & Sayaka Hirota
Takeshi Kamura & Koharu Yonemoto
Akane Yamaguchi 2 (21-17,21-16) 0 Minatsu Mitani
Akane Yamaguchi proceeded to the Championship game to compete with Sayaka Sato, the runner-up last year tomorrow, after today's match against Minatsu Mitani, the WS Champion of this tournament in 2013.
In the first game, Akane took the lead easily by 8-0, as Minatsu seemed to be not concentrated in the beginning. Akane in contrast sometimes showed her characteristic tricky shots and at the interval she took the lead by 11-1. Akane consistently placed the shuttlecock to the corners almost without hard hits in the latter half of the game, while Minatsu tried to catch up by her speedy footwork. Her crossed cut shots and net shots were effective to get the points by 17, but Minatsu lost the first game by 21-17 as the difference of the score in the beginning was too wide.
Keigo Sonoda & Takeshi Kamura 2(21-14, 21-16)0 Takuto Inoue & Yuki Kaneko
In order to cope with the swift and low attack of Sonoda/Kamura, Inoue/Kaneko chose the tactics to slow down the shuttles with effective half shots, net returns & high lobbing shots of Opponents' smashes.
However, Sonoda/Kamura kept attacking with Sonoda's powerful smashes from rear court area, and Kamura's sharp push from net area and skillful net play following Sonoda's attack.
Through the 1st game, Sonoda/Kamura kept leading to 14-10, 17-14 and closed the game 21-14 with 4 consecutive points.
Hiroyuki Endo & Yuuta Watanabe 2 (21-18,21-15) 0 Takuro Hoki & Yuugo Kobayashi
After the retirement of Hayakawa, Endo newly pairs with young talented Yuuta Watanabe, who competed with the last year MD runner up, Hoki & Kobayashi.
In the first game both pairs calmly started and the score moved one by one to 3-3, before Hoki/Kobayashi gradually took the lead by 7-4, 9-5, and 11-6 at the interval. Until then the low height rallies made by Hoki/Kobayashi kept Endo' powerful smashes be silent. After the interval, as the low and quick shots by Hoki continued to perform well, Watanabe who might be a bit nervous, sometimes could not return. Hoki/Kobayashi kept the lead to 17-13, however, Endo/Watanabe tried to give the more pressure by defending in the front area of the court. They caught up at 17-17 and reversed to take the game by 21-18.
Ayaka Takahashi & Misaki Matsutomo 2 (21-16, 17-21, 21-17) 1 Yuki Fukushima & Sayaka Hirota
World # 1 ranked & Gold Medalist, the duo of Takahashi & Matsutomo, played against Fukushima & Hirota, #18 world ranked pair and they advanced to the final to be held tomorrow as expected.
Though the large audience might have thought if Taka/Matsu would be beaten, because the young opponent took the lead by 17-16 in the final game, the Champion themselves mentioned after the match that they did not have any feeling of pinch as they could keep the offensive style and were able to stroke the various shots which they wanted to try.
Koharu Yonemoto & Shiho Tanaka 2 (21-17, 21-12) 0 Kurumi Yonao & Naoko Fukuman
Yonao/Fukuman looked to have started nicely this one of WD semi-finals in leading the first game to 10-5 but gradually Yonemoto/Tanaka narrowed the gap and caught up with the opponent at 11-11 just after the interval. Then the game went to seesaw situation until 16-16 before Yonemoto/Tanaka sped up their attacking formation to earn 3 consecutive points twice from 16-16 to 19-16 and 19-17 to 21-17.
Yonao/Fukuman hit smashes stronger and faster effectively enough than the ones of Yonemoto/Tanaka during the first half of the first game, however as being mentioned above Yonemoto/Tanaka started to show their strength of attacking shots with strong smashes and also receiving shots against opponent's smashes which were wisely placed to the opponent's fore part of the court near the net. Yonao/Fukuman was forced to lift the shuttle from fore part of the court to the end line of the Yonemoto/Tanaka's court. It is apparent that Yonemoto/Tanaka did wait for this kind of shuttles to attack and earn points.
Takeshi Kamura & Koharu Yonemoto 2(22-20, 21-18)0 Katsunori Ito & Natsumi Uratani
Ito/Uratani played very well keeping their good performance in this tournament, against Kamura/Yonemoto, one of the top players of mixed doubles.
The match proceeded very closely and sea saw.
In the 1st game, Kamura/Yonemoto led to 17-13, when Ito/Uratani started playing very persistently and caught up to 20-20. Then Uratani's lob return of Yonemoto's smash went over the back boundary line, next Ito's push shot against Kamura's service was blocked by net to the result of Kamura/Yonemoto.'s winning.
2nd game proceeded in breath-taking rallies to 18-17 of Kamura/Yonemoto.
Kamura's service return touched net and fell in the opponent's court with luck, and in the next rally, Yonemoto well reacted to opponent's net-in shot to get 20th point.
At 18-20 of Ito/Uratani's service was too short and the match ended rather disappointingly by the victory of Kamura/Yonemoto.