Tuesday, August 20, 2019
GAYLE ALLEYNE | BADMINTONPHOTO
Wakana Nagahara tuned up for her women’s doubles title defence this afternoon by partnering Takuro Hoki in a nerve-jangling victory over Goh Soon Huat and Lai Shevon Jemie at the TOTAL BWF World Championships 2019.
In the second game, the lively Japanese saved four match points against the No.12 mixed doubles seeds, then toughed out that game to force a decider in which they seized the early ascendancy and never looked back. For their energetic exploits, they earned a 19-21 27-25 21-16 triumph and a place across the net from No.5 seeds, Chan Peng Soon/Goh Liu Ying, in the third round.
A beaming Nagahara – who starts in women’s doubles tomorrow with Mayu Matsumoto – affirmed that mixed doubles is not a joke and they are determined to see how far they can go in Basel, Switzerland.
“We are focusing on it to help our doubles play but, of course, we are taking it seriously and trying to win our matches at the World Championships,” said the ambitious 23-year-old.
“There are techniques in either discipline which help us when we play the other format. We are working hard to improve in mixed doubles.”
An elated Hoki – who is also in men’s doubles with Yugo Kobayashi – added they are taking it one step at a time and not thinking too far ahead. Regarding his partner, he noted that Nagahara’s all-round ability makes her deadly on court.
“She is really strong in both attack and defence and she can return the shuttle against male players. So, playing with her is a great asset,” he said.
Meanwhile, Goh and Lai were inconsolable as they agonised over snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
The turning point, they agreed, was at 20-17 in the second game when they squandered three match points – and then a fourth at 21-20.
“From there, we lost focus and then our opponents won the game. In the third game, they were more confident and played more bravely than us,” said the Malaysians.
Japan’s mixed-doubles chances were enhanced as Yuta Watanabe/Arisa Higashino also progressed to the third round. The No.3 seeds beat Indonesia’s Rinov Rivaldy and Pitha Haningtyas Mentari (21-13 19-21 21-16). They next face England’s Chris Adcock and Gabrielle Adcock. The latter prevailed 21-19 21-10 versus Vietnam’s Tuan Duc Do/Nhu Thao Pham.
Europe’s Winning Women
Elsewhere, Denmark’s Amalie Magelund/Freja Ravn enjoyed partisan crowd support as they brushed off the loss of the opening game to down Hong Kong’s Ng Tsz Yau/Yuen Sin Ying (13-21 21-15 21-18) in women’s doubles. Other European winners in that category were Linda Efler/Isabel Herttrich (Germany), Ekaterina Bolotova/Alina Davletova (Russia) and Maryna Ilyinskaya/Yelyzaveta Zharka (Ukraine).