Okuhara keeps Japan hopes alive in Denmark

Odense (Denmark) (AFP) –


Former world champion Nozomi Okuhara set-up a Denmark Open final against Carolina Marin on Saturday, giving a boost to Japanese badminton after a host of their top names had opted out of the tournament.

Okuhara defeated Michelle Li of Canada, 21-10, 21-7 while three-time world champion and Olympic gold medallist Marin of Spain enjoyed a 21-17 21-11 victory over Germany's Yvonne Li.

"I decided to attend the Denmark Open because Marin was attending too, so I am happy I have reached the final and will be able to play against her," said Okuhara.

She is one of the few Japanese players who made the trip to Europe after officials pulled a number of top prospects including world champion Kento Momota.

In the men's final, Anders Antonsen and Rasmus Gemke will meet in an all-Danish affair.

Antonsen went into his semi-final against Taiwan's Chou Tien Chen having won only one of eight previous clashes but came through 21-17, 21-15.

Gemke had never won a match in three against Kenta Nishimoto but saw off the fourth-seeded Japanese player, 21-14, 21-17.

"He had a new plan for me. He played with a different tempo, different skill, so it was tough to play," said Chou.

"It was tough from the back court. He wasn't very fast, but his tempo was good, and it was tough to follow. But it was a good tournament, and I will go back to training harder."