Indonesian badminton star Christie and Japan's Yamaguchi win Hong Kong Open finals

Jonatan Christie of Indonesia poses with his trophy at the podium after his win against Kenta Nishimoto of Japan in their men’s singles final match of the Hong Kong Open badminton tournament in Hong Kong on Sunday, September 17, 2023. - AFP

HONG KONG (AFP): Jonatan Christie became the first Indonesian to win the Hong Kong Open men's singles title in 25 years after a fierce battle with Japan's Kenta Nishimoto, whose compatriot Akane Yamaguchi claimed the women's title.

Christie was pushed all the way by world number 15 Nishimoto after dropping the first game 12-21.

But he managed to force a decider when he won the second game 22-20, with the final stretching out for 90 minutes to become the longest match of the tournament.

The fifth seed then clinched a match by taking the final game 21-18.

"The match wasn't easy at all, Kenta played well and never gave up but neither did I," Christie said.

Christie became the first Indonesian to take the men's singles title since Budi Santoso in 1998, an even more remarkable achievement given that he said he was so unhappy with his fitness when he arrived that he wasn't sure he would be able to play.

The men's draw had been rocked by the surprise defeat of world number one Victor Axelsen of Denmark in the first round.

Yamaguchi pocketed her fifth title of the year by sweeping aside China's Zhang Yiman 21-18 21-15 in the women's final.

"It's been a fruitful outing for me and I'm very happy that I won the tournament," world number two Yamaguchi said.

"I've had a good fortnight in China and Hong Kong China and I hope to build on what I accomplished in these two weeks."

The Hong Kong pair of Tang Chun-man and Tse Ying-suet generated some local excitement by blazing their way into the mixed doubles finals for the first time.

However, they were beaten 21-13 21-19 by China's new pairing of Guo Xinwa and Wei Yaxin.

"We are disappointed because we badly wanted to be the first home mixed pair to win the Hong Kong Open," Tse said.

"But our opponents are a new pair and we were not really familiar with their style of play."

Indonesia's Apriyani Rahayu and Siti Ramadhanti fought back to beat Malaysians Perly Tan and Thinaah Muralitharan 14-21 24-22 21-9 to clinch the women's doubles title.

The men's doubles title went to Denmark's Kim Astrup and Anders Rasmussen, who squeezed past Indonesia's Leo Carnando and Daniel Marthin 21-10 22-24 21-19.

Several players criticised the court conditions after slipping during matches, including US player Zhang Beiwen, who said on Instagram she had lost her footing during her quarter-final against Yamaguchi.

Axelsen and Spain's three-time world champion Carolina Marin also criticised the courts. - AFP

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