BASEL, SWITZERLAND – Defending champions Wakana Nagahara and Mayu Matsumoto have guaranteed themselves at least a bronze medal in the women’s doubles at the Badminton World Championships on Friday.
The top seeds and titleholders took the first game 22-20 and advanced to the semifinals after their opponent Koharu Yonemoto injured her left ankle midway through the quarterfinal match. Yonemoto and Shiho Tanaka retired at 3-3 in the second game.
“I’m not satisfied just winning today’s match,” Nagahara said.
“It doesn’t mean anything if we don’t win the semifinals. I got a bit tense because we were playing against our teammates today,” she said.
Also in the quarterfinals, Rio Olympic women’s doubles champions Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi were beaten by seventh seeds Du Yue and Li Yin Hui of China 23-25, 21-18, 25-23 in a heated 126-minute contest.
In men’s action, the Japanese pair of Takuro Hoki and Yugo Kobayashi also secured themselves a spot on the podium with a 21-16, 18-21, 21-15 win over compatriots Takeshi Kamura and Keigo Sonoda in the doubles quarterfinals.
The mixed doubles team of Yuta Watanabe and Arisa Higashino is also guaranteed a medal, Japan’s first in the mixed-gender category, after progressing to the semis.
World No. 1 Kento Momota faces B. Sai Praneeth of India in the men’s singles semifinals as he aims for a second straight gold medal, and Nozomi Okuhara will meet Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand in a women’s semifinal clash.
Entering Saturday, the next-to-last day of the world championships, Japan is assured of a podium spot in all five categories and a record-equaling six medals.
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