World Tour Finals: ‘MatsuShida’ on Course

Nami Matsuyama and Chiharu Shida — ‘MatsuShida’ to fans — scored their first win over second seeds Baek Ha Na/Lee So Hee in seven matches to move a step closer to qualifying for the HSBC BWF World Tour Finals 2023.

In women’s singles, Kim Ga Eun’s quarterfinal victory helped her vault into contention for the season finale as No.2 Akane Yamaguchi is under an injury cloud.

Matsuyama and Shida are currently fifth in the BWF World Tour Rankings, with their compatriots Yuki Fukushima/Sayaka Hirota looking to overtake them for Japan’s second qualifying spot behind No.2 Mayu Matsumoto/Wakana Nagahara.

Baek Ha Na during the Korean’s loss to Matsuyama/Shida

Matsuyama/Shida were 2620 points ahead of Fukushima/Hirota at the start of the LI-NING China Masters 2023 and had to avoid losing early to prevent a close call. The world No.5 pair did just that by beating Jongkolphan Kititharakul/Rawinda Prajongjai and Liu Sheng Shu/Tan Ning on their way to the quarterfinals.

On Friday, with Fukushima/Hirota having taken their place in the semifinals, Matsuyama/Shida continued to display fine form with a straight-games defeat of the world No.2 Koreans. Fukushima/Hirota’s only chance at qualifying would be to win the China Masters and hope Matsuyama/Shida fall in the semifinals.

The other women’s doubles qualifiers have all fallen into place: Baek Ha Na/Lee So Hee; Mayu Matsumoto/Wakana Nagahara; Chen Qing Chen/Jia Yi Fan; Liu Sheng Shu/Tan Ning, Kim So Yeong/Kong Hee Yong; Apriyani Rahayu/Siti Fadia Silva Ramadhanti and Jongkolphan Kititharakul/Rawinda Prajongjai, who just slipped in ahead of their Thai compatriots Benyapa Aimsaard/Nuntakarn Aimsaard by a thin margin of 260 points.

Kim in Contention

Kim Ga Eun

Kim Ga Eun’s quarterfinal victory over Vietnam’s Nguyen Thuy Linh might ensure her a last-ditch qualifying spot as she vaulted over Pornpawee Chochuwong and Supanida Katethong. Akane Yamaguchi, who was assured of qualification in second spot, had earlier withdrawn from the China Masters due to injury. With at least 70650 points, Kim passed Chochuwong (70270) and Katethong (69800).

Qualifiers: An Se Young; Akane Yamaguchi*; Chen Yu Fei; Carolina Marin; Tai Tzu Ying; Han Yue; Gregoria Mariska Tunjung; Beiwen Zhang

Nishimoto Keeps Chances Alive

Kenta Nishimoto

In men’s singles, Kenta Nishimoto kept alive his slim chances of qualifying by beating Lee Zii Jia and making the semifinals. However, if he has to qualify, he has to win the tournament – which will give him 79220 points, taking him ahead of Anders Antonsen (78110).

Other Qualifiers: Jonatan Christie; Li Shi Feng; Viktor Axelsen; Shi Yu Qi; Anthony Sinisuka Ginting; Kodai Naraoka; Kunlavut Vitidsarn

Men’s Doubles: Fikri/Maulana Edge Through

Lee Yang and Wang Chi-Lin

Lee Yang/Wang Chi-Lin’s three-game loss to Liang Wei Keng/Wang Chang and Leo Rolly Carnando/Daniel Marthin’s straight-games defeat to Rankireddy/Shetty nixed their hopes of qualifying. Muhammad Shohibul Fikri/Bagas Maulana just about secured their spot with 80,800 points. Rankireddy/Shetty’s best-case scenario – a title win at the China Masters – will only give them 80240 points.

Qualifiers: Kang Min Hyuk/Seo Seung Jae; Fajar Alfian/Muhammad Rian Ardianto; Liang Wei Keng/Wang Chang; Takuro Hoki/Yugo Kobayashi; Aaron Chia/Soh Wooi Yik; Kim Astrup/Anders Skaarup Rasmussen; Liu Yu Chen/Ou Xuan Yi; Muhammad Shohibul Fikri/Bagas Maulana

All Spots Taken in Mixed Doubles

There was a neck-and-neck race between Ye Hong Wei/Lee Chia Hsin and Tang Chun Man/Tse Ying Suet, with the Chinese Taipei pair leading by just 70 points. It became a direct shootout as they faced off in the second round, and Tang/Tse’s three-game victory gave them the ticket. The Hong Kong China pair went on to win the quarterfinal over Dechapol Puavaranukroh/Sapsiree Taerattanachai.

Qualifiers: Feng Yan Zhe/Huang Dong Ping; Yuta Watanabe/Arisa Higashino; Zheng Si Wei/Huang Ya Qiong; Seo Seung Jae/Chae Yu Jung; Dechapol Puavaranukroh/Sapsiree Taerattanachai; Kim Won Ho/Jeong Na Eun; Chen Tang Jie/Toh Ee Wei; Tang Chun Man/Tse Ying Suet

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