What looked like a difficult draw for Kirsty Gilmour in the DAIHATSU YONEX Japan Open proved just so, as World No. 10 Chen Yufei showed her class on the way to a straight-set victory.
Kirsty was always going to find it tough going up against the Chinese player who had earned a bronze medal at the TOTAL BWF Badminton World Championships in Glasgow just a month before, beating World No. 8 Ratchanok Intanon and World No. 2 Akane Yamaguchi along the way.
Although, Kirsty could take heart from the fact that she had also eliminated higher ranked opponents at the World Championships, beating Chen Yufei’s compatriot He Bingjiao, before bowing out in the quarter finals.
The first game started with Chen developing a substantial lead before Kirsty brought the scores together at 8-8 and again at 9-9. Thereafter, Kirsty managed to gain the upper-hand with a surge of 3 consecutive points either side of the mid-game break before pushing her lead to 16-11. Kirsty was in control at this point, but Chen was to show why she is considered one of the World’s best with a fightback that took the game to 18-18 and, despite Kirsty’s best efforts, Chen was able to go on to win 21-19.
The second game started in see-saw fashion with both players trading points; Kirsty managed to work herself into a 3 point lead before Chen Yufei fought back into the contest and earned herself a slim 11-10 lead at the break. However, it was a different story in the second half of the game. Chen surged to victory, barely checked by Gilmour, with runs of 4 and 6 points consecutively. In the end, a 21-13 victory, made it look easier than it actually was for Chen and belied the closely-fought combative nature of the early game.
Kirsty will now have an opportunity to get back into the rhythm of regular training on home soil with a month before her next scheduled tournament, the Denmark Open in October.