Photo: William GreinerTakuya Miki (JPN)
Takuya Miki and Stephane Houdet opened their bids for a second Super Series title of 2014 with comfortable first round wins as the 2014 Japan Open got underway in Iizuka on Tuesday, with Miki being the only one of the eight men’s seeds to drop more than one game.
Sydney International Open champion Miki began his season by finishing runner-up to Australia’s Adam Kellerman at the Queensland Open in January, but the Japanese fifth seed made it two subsequent wins this season over the Australian world No. 15 as he secured his place in the second round in Iizuka following a 61 63 victory.
Five of the remaining seeds dropped just a game apiece, including 2013 runner-up and third seed Joachim Gerard. Belgium’s world No. 4 beat Korea Republic’s Ji-Hwan Lee 61 60 ahead of playing Japan’s Takahiro Hirate for a place in the quarterfinals. Gerard is again drawn in the opposite half of the draw to Dutch defending champion Maikel Scheffers and world No. 6 Scheffers joined recent SA Open champion Houdet in posting a 60 60 first round win.
The match of the day in the men’s singles at the third Super Series tournament of the year ended in a 64 46 76(2) victory for Korea Republic’s Chiol Yong An, who progressed to a meeting with Japan’s world No. 1 and six-time men’s singles champion Shingo Kunieda.
Imaizumi and Suda hold on to meet former champions
With all eight seeds in the women’s singles having byes through to the round of 16, two of the five women’s matches that took place on the opening day were all-Japanese contests that both involved crucial tiebreaks.
Chiharu Imaizumi will play world No. 1 and 2012 champion Sabine Ellerbrock of Germany for a place in the quarterfinals after clinching a marathon final set tiebreak to edge out Naoka Tsukamoto 60 36 76(10). At the opposite end of the draw Emi Suda had to win a second set tiebreak to maintain her challenge against Yumiko Inoue, eventually prevailing 26 76(0) 63. Suda will now become the first opponent of the week for Japan’s world No. 2 and defending champion Yui Kamiji.
The remaining three women’s matches were all between Japanese and Korea Republic players, with Korea’s Young-Suk Hong, Myung-Hee Hwang and Jun-Hye Yeo all advancing after closely-fought contests to earn matches against the third, fourth and fifth seeded Dutch players.
Moroishi maintains home challenge in quad singles
The first round of seven quad singles matches included six that had Japanese players and Mitsuteru Moroishi, currently Japan’s top ranked quad singles player, is the only one of the home players to reach the quarterfinals after recovering from a slow start to beat his countryman Takahito Koga 46 64 63.
Moroishi will meet Australian third seed Dylan Alcott for a place in the last four after world No. 6 Alcott made his Japan Open debut with a 61 62 win over Shota Kawano. Alcott could be on for a tantalising semifinal against world No. 1 David Wagner. Wagner had a bye ahead of playing Canada’s Miki Ishikawa, who opened her challenge in Iizuka with a 62 63 victory over her higher-ranked Japanese opponent Takashi Nagaoka
While there were straight sets wins for South African second seed Lucas Sithole and third seed Greg Hasterok of USA, former runner-up Tzu-Hsuan Huang of Chinese Taipei led Japan’s Hiroshi Toma 64 63 when Toma retired, while Malaysia Azman Hasan made up for a slow start to win a fascinating match against Malaysia’s Azman Hasan 16 62 75.
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Order of Play - Wednesday, 14 May 2014
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