MATSUYAMA Nami & SHIDA Chiharu (JPN)
Age: 24 (Matsuyama), 25 (Shida)
Partners since: 2017
Ranking (as of 11 October 2022): 4
Career high ranking: same as current ranking
The upsides are high for Matsuyama Nami and Shida Chiharu, who are now Japan’s top-ranked women’s pair in the BWF rankings.
It is a proof of the depth of talent Japanese badminton has, as it also has two more tandems inside the women’s doubles top ten, including the veteran combo of Fukushima Yuki and Hirota Sayaka, who were once the world number one.
Before becoming a fulltime tandem in 2017, Matsuyama won the girl’s doubles world title in Bilbao, Spain the year prior, albeit with a different partner in Hobara Sayaka. This was a huge improvement in 2015 when Nami and Shida took the bronze in Lima.
Matsuyama and Shida won their first senior title at the Smiling Fish International in Thailand as they swept compatriots Shinoya Naru and Hoshi Chisato in a two-game final.
Their debut crown in the World Tour came in Taipei in 2018, in which they swept aside Shinoya and Ayane Kurihara. 2019 brought them two more titles; 2020 was a horrid year for them due to the pandemic.
Missing out on the rescheduled 2020 Summer Olympics added fuel to their burning desire to go on top, as 2021 saw them claim both the Indonesia Open and Indonesia Masters. They qualified to the BWF World Tour Finals for the first time, losing to the South Korean pair of Kim So-yeong and Kong Hee-hong.
Matsuyama and Shida rose in 2022, bringing themselves to their highest ranking. They took home the All England crown, exacting revenge on Kim So-yeong and Kong Hee-hong in the quarterfinals.
Following their success in Birmingham, they also retained their Indonesia Open title and won their first Thailand Open crown in similar three-game marathons. In their home World Championships, they were the seeded fifth and exited at the last eight as the duo of Kim So-yeong and Kong Hee-hong avenged their defeat in England.