Home favourite Akane Yamaguchi reaches Japan Open badminton final; edges arch-rival Yufei in three sets again

Akane Yamaguchi of Japan hits a return against Chen Yufei of China during their women's singles semi-final match on day five of the Japan Open badminton tournament in Osaka on Saturday, September 3, 2022. - AFP

OSAKA (Japan), Sept 3, 2022 (AFP): World badminton champion Akane Yamaguchi beat China's Chen Yufei to reach the final of the Japan Open on Saturday, then thanked the home fans for getting her over the line.

Top seed Yamaguchi, who retained her world title last week in Tokyo, edged Chen 15-21, 21-16, 24-22 in Osaka after a tense encounter in which both players had match points.

Yamaguchi beat Chen in the world championships final last week and she again came out on top after a match that she said was about "who could tough it out the longest".

"We're in Japan and I think my win was down to the power of the crowd," said the 25-year-old.

"I had some fatigue and I felt really tired until midway through the match. Then the final game started and I just wanted to enjoy it and I started to play well and my movement improved."

Yamaguchi will play An Se-young in Sunday's final after the South Korean number three seed beat Taiwan's Tai Tzu-ying 21-12, 14-21, 21-13.

In the men's competition, Japan's Kenta Nishimoto beat Anders Antonsen 22-20, 21-19, eliminating the Dane for the second week running to reach his first final of the season.

World number 21 Nishimoto's opponent on Sunday will be number four seed Chou Tien-chen of Taiwan, who beat China's Shi Yuqi 15-21, 21-19, 21-12.

Nishimoto -- who became the home crowd's favourite in the men's competition after misfiring number two seed Kento Momota made an early exit this week -- said he hoped his "passion" would help him win the final.

"Last time was last time and today was today -- I was just concentrating on each point as it came," Nishimoto said after his latest win over Antonsen, who he beat in the first round last week in Tokyo.

"I know that I'll definitely be nervous in the final because I'll be playing at home but I want to enjoy it." - AFP

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Japan Open , Badminton , Aken , Beat Chen , Semifinal


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