Akane redeems Basel heartache with first world title


All smiles: Akane Yamaguchi giving the thumbs up after winning her match. — Badminton Photo

PETALING JAYA: Akane Yamaguchi of Japan has erased her past disappointment by powering her way to the women’s singles world title in Huelva.

The world No. 3 Yamaguchi was in her element as she outclassed world No. 1 Tai Tzu-ying 21-14, 21-11 in the final of the World Championships yesterday to deny the latter from becoming Taiwan’s first world champion.

The victory was a great redemption for Yamaguchi following a disastrous outing in Basel in 2019. Then, she was the top seed and overwhelming favourite but was shockingly dumped in the second round by Singapore’s Yeo Jia Min.

This time, the 24-year-old got it right to become only the second Japanese winner, emulating Nozomi Okuhara’s feat in Glasgow 2017.

As for Tzu-ying, the defeat marked her second major disappointment this year having also settled for silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics in August.

Meanwhile, Thailand’s mixed doubles aces Dechapol Puavaranukroh-Sapsiree Taerattanachai capped a splendid year with a dominant 21-13, 21-14 win over Japan’s Yuta Watanabe-Arisa Higashino to emerge as the world champions.

They made it fifth victory in as many tournaments, having also triumphed at the Hylo Open, Indonesian Masters, Indonesian Open and World Tour Finals in which they also deservingly took over as the world No. 1.

The win also made amends for their disappointment of finishing second to China’s Huang Yaqiong-Zheng Siwei in Basel two years ago.

Dechapol-Sapsiree’s feat came eight years after Ratchanok Intanon won the women’s singles crown in Guangzhou 2013. n SEMI-FINALS

Men’s singles: K. Srikanth (Ind) bt Lakhsya Sen (Ind) 17-21, 21-14, 21-17; Loh Kean Yew (Sin) bt Anders Antonsen (Den) 23-21, 21-14.

Men’s doubles: Takuro Hoki-Yugo Kobayashi (Jpn) bt Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi (Mas) 21-13, 21-9; He Jiting-Tan Qiang (Chn) bt Kim Astrup-Anders Skaarup Rasmussen (Den) 21-16, 13-21, 21-15.

Women’s doubles: Lee So-hee-Shin Sheung-chan (Kor) bt Kim So-yeong-Kong Hee-yong (Kor) 21-18, 21-17; Chen Qingchen-Jia Yifan (Chn) bt Mayu Matsumoto-Wakana Nagahara (Jpn) 21-15, 21-15.

Mixed doubles: Yuta Watanabe-Arisa Higashino (Jpn) bt Kyohei Yamashita-Naru Shinoya (Jpn) 21-13, 21-8.

n FINALS

Women’s singles: Akane Yamaguchi (Jpn) bt Tai Tzu-ying (Tpe) 21-14, 21-11.

Women’s doubles: Chen Qingchen-Jia Yifan (Chn) bt Lee So-hee-Shin Sheung-chan (Kor) 21-16, 21-17.

Mixed doubles: Dechapol Puavaranukroh-Sapsiree Taerattanachai (Tha) bt Yuta Watanabe-Arisa Higashino (Jpn) 21-13, 21-14.

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