General

(Photo: Badmintonphoto)
Clinical Japan stay calm and set up repeat final
Date: 10/2/2021 8:34 PM
Published by : Alan Raftery
After sensational scenes yesterday following Malaysia’s historic win over Indonesia, they woke up today with the prospect of facing a formidable Japanese team who mean business. Malaysia threatened to provide another shock, but Japan stayed composed to reach the final. 

Looking at the team line-ups, Malaysia were the most likely to take an early lead with their newly crowned Olympic bronze medallists in men’s doubles. Further backing this idea is that Aaron Chia/ Soh Wooi Yik had already defeated their opponents, Takuro Hoki/ Yugo Kobyashi, in the group stage.
 
Despite this, Takuro Hoki/ Yugo Kobayashi were able to dominate much of the match with their speed. Briefly, with the Malaysians in a more defensive stance in the second game, they seemed to run out of ways to break through. But eventually they did through sheer grit.

-They were more prepared, faster and stronger than us today, Chia explained. 

The Japanese duo who have been catapulted to the top of their country’s pecking order held their own, winning 21-15, 21-14. 

- We had nothing to lose because we were playing a good pair. We became relaxed and were able to see the shuttle clearly, Kobayashi stated.

Yamaguchi done in 26 minutes
It was looking good for Japan now with their two singles coming up. Yamaguchi pounced at the opportunity and clinically dismantled a tired Kisona Selvaduray. In less than half an hour, Yamaguchi made it 2-0.

Kento Momota was up next to try and secure another final for Japan. Up against Lee Zii Jia, whom he defeated in the group stages, to his extreme delight, it was looking promising. Momota looked like he picked up where he left off and took control. 

Momota was not able to convert a game point and allowed Lee to steal the opener 22-20. The crowd erupted in Finland and this gave the Malaysian the boost of energy he needed. Able to match Momota, he witnessed the world number one tire and struggle to up the pace. 

In the final moments, Lee scored a successful challenge and it was a vital one. 

-I actually took the challenge thinking that it was out. I was able to talk with my coach, but then when I saw that it was in fact in, it gave me belief that I could win, Lee admitted. 

Everything clicked thereafter and Lee celebrated his 22-20, 21-19 win by ripping his shirt off and throwing it into the crowd. He kept Malaysia in the tie. 

- I cannot describe the feeling. I am very happy for all Malaysian fans. I felt that I could beat anyone today, Lee said proudly. 

A valiant effort
Moving to women’s doubles, which when talking about Japan, usually spells trouble for the opponents. A scratch pairing of former Olympic Champion and former World Champion, Misaki Matsutomo  and Mayu Matsumoto took on Pearly Tan/ Thinaah Muralitharan. 

The Malaysians pushed the current Olympic Champions, Polii/ Rahayu close last night, but despite a valiant effort showing plenty of determination, they lost out 21-19, 21-17. 

The final is set. It will be the repeat of the Sudirman Cup final two years ago, China vs Japan.

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