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Thursday May 23, 2013

Kenichi’s goal is to take Japan into Sudirman Cup semi-finals

JAPAN’S Sudirman Cup captain Kenichi Tago came to Malaysia with a double mission.

Although he put up a spectacular showing to beat Jan O Jorgensen en route to Japan’s stunning 3-2 win in Group D on Tuesday, the aggressive Kenichi said that his task is far from accomplished.

The former All-England runner-up’s goal is to take Japan to their first semi-final appearance in the Sudirman Cup and get a chance to play two of his favourite players – world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei and China’s Chen Long.

His mission to meet Chong Wei at the Sudirman Cup, however, will not materialise because Malaysia suffered a shock elimination from the world mixed team after losing 2-3 to Germany on Tuesday. But he has a bright chance to make his other dream come true.

Second seeds Japan are in the lower half of the draw and have been drawn to play Thailand in the quarter-finals. If they win, they will take on the winners of the match between South Korea and Germany.

In the top half, China are the favourites. The top seeds and eight-time champions will take on Indonesia while the other quarter-final tie will be between Denmark and Taiwan.

If a final between China and Japan takes place, Kenichi will get a chance to play against Chen Long.

“I am here with a dual mission. It will be historic for my country if we clear the quarter-finals for the first time and I hope to make it possible. This tournament is also a platform to gauge myself with two of the most strongest players – Chong Wei and Chen Long. They will be the favourites at the coming World Championships (in Guangzhou in August) and I wanted to face them here. Now, I still have a chance of playing against Chen Long at least.”

Kenichi has beaten Chen Long twice in eight meetings while he has never been able to end his losing streak to Chong Wei, having come close at the recent India Open final at New Delhi.

When asked about his current form, Kenichi flashed a smile.

“I played one of my best matches against Jorgensen. We were tied 25-25 in the rubber game but although there were line call disputes, I was not distracted and went on to win. I am ready.”

Today, Kenichi will play either Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk or Boonsak Ponsana but Thailand may field the former as the youngster had been quite impressive of late. He reached the semi-finals of the All-England in March.

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