Asia Championship: Japan begins campaign in style

The Japanese men’s and women’s teams began their campaign in style with emphatic wins over Nepal and Singapore respectively in their first round in the Happening Hyderabad Badminton Asia team championship at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium here on Tuesday.

Sato Sayaka of Japan beat Singapore’s Liang Xiaoyu in the Badminton Asia team championship in Hyderabad.   -  Nagara Gopal

The Japanese men’s and women’s teams began their campaign in style with emphatic wins over Nepal and Singapore respectively in their first round in the Happening Hyderabad Badminton Asia team championship at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium here on Tuesday.

In the men’s section, World No. 22 Sho Sasaki set the tempo for the Japanese contingent with a 21-10, 21-17 win over Ratnajit Tamang in 28 minutes in the first men’s singles. It was a high quality display by Sasaki, who was once World No.6, as he repeatedly toyed with his inexperienced opponent with some delectable placements at the net and also with some stunning smashes.

Ueda Takuma did not disappoint his camp either, with an emphatic 21-10, 22-12 win over Dhipesh Dhami. Then, it was the turn of Nishimoto Kenta, ranked World No. 46, to show that Japan meant business in this edition when he notched up a 21-13, 21-16 win over Shrestha Bikash to give his team an unassailable 3-0 lead.

Not surprisingly, the doubles combination of Saeki Hiroyuki and Taohata Ryota was equal to the task in disposing off Dipesh Dhami and Ratnajit Tamang for a 21-5, 21-5 win and soon Kamura Takeshi and Sonnoda Keigo ensured that it was a clean sweep for Japan when they disposed of Shrestha Bikash and Shrestha Nabin with a 21-6, 21-14 win.

On the adjacent court, the Japanese women were not far off the target against Singapore.

Despite not fielding their highest rated player Nozomi Okuhara today, Japan was off to a winning start with World No. 13 Sayaka Sato getting the better Liang Xiaoyu 21-17, 21-17 in 40 minutes.

A series of cross-court smashes interspersed with some delectable half-smashes from the 2015 Macau Open finalist clearly upset whatever plan Liang had of coming back into the match, especially in the final stages of the second game.

In the first doubles, Matsutomo Misaki and Takahashi Ayaka put it across Neo Yu Yan Vanessa and Wong Jia Ying Crystal 21-10, 21-17. Later, Yui Hashimoto defeated Chua Hui Zhen Grace 21-15, 21-9 to give Japan an unbeatable 3-0 lead.

Singapore’s hopes of winning a game in the fixture were dashed by Fukuman Naoko and Yonao Kurumi who downed Sari Shinta Mulia and Tan Wei Han 21-12, 21-15.

There was a chance for Singapore to stun the Japanese camp when Yeo Jia Min came close to shocking World No.17 Minatsu Mitani. With the game scores tied one-all, in the decider, it looked like anybody’s game as the scores were level thrice at 17, 18 and 19 before Mitani raised the bar.

To the delight of Mitani, her opponent faltered with poor returns and even missed a simple smash at the net to squander whatever chances she had of pulling off an upset in the 92-minute contest.

Results

Men: Group A: Malaysia bt Sri Lanka 4-1; Japan bt Nepal 5-0. Group C: Chinese Taipei bt Maldives 5-0; Indonesia bt Thailand 4-1.

Women: Group A: Malaysia bt Hong Kong China 3-2. Group B: Chinese Taipei bt Sri Lanka 4-1.

Group C: Korea bt Maldives 5-0. Group D: Japan bt Singapore 5-0.