(Photo: Badminton Photo)
A doubles clean sweep for Japan
Date: 3/21/2021 6:17 PM
Published by : Yash Sharma
With its top players contesting all the doubles finals, a clean sweep was already ensured for Japan at the All England Open 2021. A great message sent towards the Tokyo Olympic Games later this year. 

While all the other pairs were expected to make the finals, Yuki Kaneko/ Misaki Matsutomo were a pleasant Japanese surprise. Perhaps, Matsutomo being able to focus solely on mixed doubles made all the difference in this tournament.

In the opening match, the Japanese pair of Hiroyuki Endo/ Yuta Watanabe got the better of their compatriots Takeshi Kamura/ Keigo Sonoda, to win a consecutive All England men’s doubles trophy. They were taken the distance: 21-15, 17-21, 21-11. 

- The first game was won by our opponents because of our errors in receiving. In the second game, we were able to play our style and absorb their attack. At the end of the final game, Endo/ Watanabe's receiving quality was very high and we couldn't convert the points, Kamura explained. 

- We got a lot of attacking shots from our opponents in the second game, but we stayed calm and concentrated on carrying on to the third. That tactic worked and lead to us winning, Endo revealed.

Battle of the top two seeds
Mayu Matsumoto/ Wakana Nagahara avenged their Denmark Open 2020 final loss to Yuki Fukushima/ Sayaka Hirota, as they picked up their first All England trophy. Winning in two straight games 21-18, 21-16, they prevented the top seeds from winning a consecutive women’s doubles title here. 

- We have lost to them in Japan and in Denmark. We couldn't play our game in both the tournaments. So, we prepared for this match and managed to maintain our play. That's why we won, Nagahara was ecstatic. 

- We struggled during the second game and we couldn't conquer our struggles. That's why we made mistakes. We couldn't overcome their attacks, a dejected Fukushima said.

- I didn't feel I was making mistakes throughout the match, but when it was crucial, we couldn't win those points. I couldn't get into the flow of the game, Hirota added. 

Doubles double for Watanabe
Later in the day, the Japanese ace Watanabe partnered with Arisa Higashino to win his second mixed doubles title as well. By winning both the categories, he equaled a feat last achieved by Kim Dong-moon in 2002 in men's doubles and mixed doubles. Gao Ling achieved the double in 2006 in women's and mixed doubles Watanabe/ Higashino defeated their compatriots in straight games 21-14, 21-13.

With four titles at just 23, Watanabe is already one of the most successful athletes in the history of All England. 
A prestigious tournament 
- This tournament is very prestigious, so it was an honour to reach the final. However, there were unfortunate withdrawals and other top nations couldn't compete, so I feel for them, Kamura expressed his opinion.

- When I was young, this was one of my favourite tournaments. Today is my second son's birthday, so this is a nice birthday present for him, Endo was happy.

- Through the tournament, we found many things to work on and we will improve on this in training, Fukushima was resolute. 

- We had never won the title here, so this is a milestone for us to win such a big tournament. We're really happy to have won, Matsumoto said. 
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