Reigning Badminton Asia Team Championships women’s titlist Japan overcame an upset of former world no. 1 Akane Yamaguchi to take Group W against Southeast Asian powerhouse Malaysia, 3-2, Thursday at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum.
Thailand and Chinese Taipei also won their respective groups after bagging similar 3-2 decisions over Indonesia and Singapore, respectively.
Nami Matsuyama and Chiharu Shida outlasted Pearly Tan and Muralitharan Thinaah after almost an hour, 21-15, 18-21, 21-16, to secure the tie for the Japanese after the second doubles match.
Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota made short work of Chow Mei Kuan to level the tie at one match all, 21-11, 21-15 in the first doubles match. Sayaka Takahashi then put Japan in the lead at 2-1 with a 21-18, 21-12 conquest of Goh Jin Wei.
Malaysia started the tie with 2017 Southeast Asian Games silver medalist Soniia Cheah pulling the rag off Yamaguchi, 21-16, 13-21, 21-18. The match was delayed for almost an hour after the lights on their side of the court went off and had to be restored before resumption.
Selvaduray Kesona closed out the day for the Malaysians with a sweep of Aya Ohori, 21-14, 21-13.
Thailand pocketed Group Y win after Phittayaporn Chaiwan waylaid Choirunnisa Choirunnisa in the second game of the deciding singles match, 21-10, after a tight 21-18 first-frame win.
Indonesia took the first match with Gregoria Tunjung taking a 21-16, 21-12 win over Busanan Ongbamrungphan, before Thailand took the lead at 2-1 in the next two matches.
Jongkolphan Kititharakul and Rawinda Prajongjai took the first doubles match, 21-13, 15-21, 21-17 over Ni Ketut Mahawedi Istrani and Ariyani Rahayu. Pornpawee then survived Ruselli Hartawan in a three-set thriller, 21-19, 18-21, 21-16, to put the Thais at the cusp of the win.
Indonesia’s second doubles pair of Siti Ramadhanti and Ribka Sugiarto, however, forced the decider with a dominant win over Chayanit Chaladchalam and Phataimas Muenwong, 21-17, 21-12.
Chinese Taipei clinched the Group Z win in a similar dramatic fashion after Kuo Yu Wen and Lin Wan Ching out-worked Yue Jaslyn Hooi and Yeo Jia Min, 21-10, 17-21, 21-11, in the deciding doubles match.
The Taiwanese and the Singaporeans split the first four matches to make the fifth rubber a winner-take-all contest.
Chinese Taipei’s Pai Yu Po outlasted Yeo in the opening singles match at 21-19, 17-21, 21-16. Singapore’s Hooi then leveled with a similar marathon match at 21-14, 13-21, 21-12 over Chiang Ying Li.
Hsu Ya Ching and Hu Ling Fang restored the Taiwanese lead with a first doubles win over Yujia Jin and Jia Crystal Wong, 21-19, 21-15. Hui Zhen Grace Chua, however, forced the decider with a 21-16, 18-21, 21-16 win over Hung Yi-Ting.
Quarterfinals ties for the women’s tournament are scheduled on Friday, February 14 at 10 a.m. in this tournament backed by SMART Communications, Inc., MVP Sports Foundation, Leisure and Resorts World Corporation, Cignal, and TV5.