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First finalists confirmed as Matsumoto and Nagahara prevail

Semi-final Saturday is up and running at badminton’s greatest show and we have our first finalist confirmed as Mayu Matsumoto and Wakana Nagahara progressed in style.

Of the ten matches on Saturday an amazing seven feature Japanese players, Matsumoto and Nagahara’s women’s doubles win over Shiho Tanaka and Koharu Yonemoto the only all-Japanese tie.

The 53-minute match saw world champions Matsumoto and Nagahara dominate right from the off, with eight consecutive points seeing them into a 14-4 lead.

The two 23-year-olds were just as strong in the second game against their older teammates, displaying awesome power from the back of the court to keep on the attack – eventually winning 21-11 21-12.

After the win, Matsumoto commented: “We played steadily. We were calm and we enjoyed the match very much today.”

The finalists also played Japanese opponents in the shape of Ayako Sakuramoto and Yukiko Takahata in round one, and could face Yuki Fukushima and Siyaka Hirota in an all-Japanese final if the top seeds win their evening session match against China’s Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan.

After reaching the All England semi-finals last year Matsumoto and Nagahara had an amazing 2018, rising from 32nd in the world rankings to third in the space of 12 months, winning the French Open and Spanish Masters titles, now with more silverware in their sights.

Nagahara commented: “In this tournament we’ve had to play our fellow Japanese players from the beginning, so it’s been a bit difficult.

“But we have taken things step by step, have built up our confidence and now we need to do our best tomorrow again.”