Kodai Naraoka – one of the players to watch from Japan – was very close to winning over Viktor Axelsen, the current world number 1. It happened in the semifinals at the World Tour Finals 2022. Watch the full match below.
Kodai Naraoka came in as a huge underdog but left a promise
Kodai faced Viktor in the group stage during the group stage at the HSBC BWF World Tour Finals in 2022. Axelsen literally outplayed him winning in straight games (21-5, 21-16).
Viktor Axelsen placed 1st and Kodai Naraoka placed 2nd in the group stage and therefore both qualified for the semifinals.
The draw matched the two to play one of the semifinals. Ginting and Christie would play in the other semifinal
Many badminton commentators had Viktor Axelsen as a huge favorite to win the semifinal against Kodai Naraoka. But Naraoka had other plans.
In what many believe was the very best match at the 2022 BWF World Tour Finals, the audience was given a real badminton treat. Japanese Kodai Naraoka showed his great potential in a match he nearly won. He is truly one to watch.
Viktor Axelsen, on the other hand, also showed great character. The world number one was struggling at times but managed to pull himself together to secure a spot in the World Tour Final. (Axelsen would go on to win the final in straight sets against Ginting).
Watch the match below
BWF Tour Semifinal: Kodai Naroaka vs. Viktor Axelsen
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In case you were wondering;
– Kodai Naraoka’s name is spelled like this in Japanese: 奈良岡功大
– Kodai’s Instagram is here
– He is also on Twitter here
– Kodai is now the highest-ranked player in Japan (December 2022)