Home2018Japan top heavy with champions for E-Plus Badminton Asia Team Championships...

Japan top heavy with champions for E-Plus Badminton Asia Team Championships 2018

It was a heartbreaking 3-2 defeat for Japan at the hands of China in the women's final at the last Badminton Asia Team Championships in Hyderabad, India in 2016 – what more despite grabbing a 2-0 lead in the opening two matches.

Japan needed only one more point to seal the title after winning the first singles through Nozomi Okuhara who beat Wang Shixian 17-21, 21-16, 21-15 and first doubles through Misaki Matsutomo-Ayaka Takahashi who beat Luo Ying-Tian Qiang 21-12, 21-16.

But all that changed when China's Sun Yu edged Sayaka Sato 22-20, 21-19 in the second singles to narrow the deficit and the fight was on. It was 2-2 when China won the second doubles through Luo Yu-Tang Yuanting with a 21-11, 21-10 win over Naoko Fukuman-Karumi Yanao.

He Bingjiao sealed the match for China when she ripped through Yui Hashimoto 21-18, 21-12 in the decider for a 3-2 win. It left the Japanese women in tears.

However, with reigning world champion Nozomi Okuhara, Olympics champions Misaki Matsutomo-Ayaka Takahashi and Dubai World Superseries champions Shiho Tanaka-Koharu Yonemoto in the team to this year's E-Plus Badminton Asia Team Championships in Alor Setar, Kedah in Malaysia.

With such talent at their disposal the Japanese are not only oozing with confidence but as the top seeds look favourites for the title.

The Japanese are the top seeds in the Asian meet with defending champions China seeded second. Beaten semi-finalists at the last championships South Korea and Thailand are seeded third and fourth respectively. 

Akane Yamaguchi, the reigning Dubai World Superseries champion last year is ranked No 2 in the latest BWF ranking list with Okuhara at No 7 while Sayaka Sato and Aya Ohori are ranked No 13 and 15 respectively.

All the three doubles pairs named to Alor Setar are ranked top six with former world No 1 Matsutomo-Takahashi at No 2; Yuki Fukushima-Sayaka Hirota (No 4) and Shiho Tanaka-Koharu Yonemoto ranked sixth.

For the record Tanaka-Yonemoto upset Fukushima-Hirota 21-16, 21-15 in the all-Japan women's doubles final in Dubai – which speaks of the awesome talent Japan's has in their women's doubles.

Japan are drawn in Group W with India and Hong Kong China in this year's E-Plus Badminton Asia Team Championships which begin in Alor Setar on Tuesday.  The top two from each group with advance to the knockout stage.

The top four (semi-finalists) in the E-Plus Badminton Asia Championships will qualify for the Uber Cup Finals which will be held at the Impact Arena, Bangkok from May 20-27.   

(Current world rankings in brackets)
Akane Yamaguchi (2)
Nozomi Okuhara (7)
Sayaka Sato (13)
Aya Ohori (16)

Misaki Matsutomo-Ayaka Takahashi (2)
Yuki Fukushima-Sayaka Hirota (4)
Shiho Tanaka-Koharu Yonemoto (6) 


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