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BADMINTON | Akane Yamaguchi Collects Tournament Title for Second Straight Week

After achieving success in Denmark, the Fukui native wraps up the month by earning another winner’s trophy in Paris.

Akane Yamaguchi, seen competing in the Denmark Open women's singles final, is the world's fifth-ranked player. (Claus Fisker/RITZAU SCANPIX/via REUTERS)

World No. 5 Akane Yamaguchi continued her stellar play of late in the Badminton World Federation’s French Open women’s singles final on Sunday, October 31.

Halloween provided a big treat for the 24-year-old Fukui native: a tournament title for the second consecutive weekend. Yamaguchi defeated 15th-ranked compatriot Sayaka Takahashi 21-18, 21-12 to extend her tourney victory streak.

On October 24, Yamaguchi earned the women’s singles trophy at the Denmark Open. (Watch highlights of her match against South Korea’s Se-young An here.)

Yamaguchi, who also won the French Open title in 2018, improved to 6-0 in career matches against the 29-year-old Takahashi.

Alert and aggressive throughout the match, the top-seeded Yamaguchi’s smashing returns and softer shots were quite effective against her foe. (See snippets of the Yamaguchi-Takahashi clash here.)

After her quarterfinal and semifinal matches both lasted more than an hour, Yamaguchi made quick work of her opponent in the title contest. It took 34 minutes. 

“The audience brought much support to my game and I am very grateful,” Yamaguchi was quoted as saying on the BWF website after the match. “I went through some tough moments such as injuries and mental challenges these last months. But I will always keep my head up. After the intense tournament period, I feel I have grown.”

How did Takahashi react to the defeat?

“It was a good fight,” she commented. “I don’t have any excuse for my defeat. I have a lot of points to revise and I have to avoid making more mistakes next time.”

Men’s Singles, and Back-to-Back Wins in Doubles

In mixed doubles, Tokyo Olympic bronze medalists Yuta Watanabe and Arisa Higashino captured the title by beating Denmark duo Mathias Christiansen and Alexandra Boje 21-8, 27-17. The Japanese pair also triumphed at the Denmark Open on the previous Sunday.

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“It’s our first time winning back-to-back titles, so we are very happy and grateful for each other,” Higashino told reporters.

Kanta Tsuneyama, the world No. 13, earned the men’s singles title on a banner day for Japanese players in the French capital, defeating Taiwan’s Tien Chen Chou 15-21, 21-8, 21-17.

Reacting to his on-court performance, the 25-year-old from Shiga Prefecture told reporters he was “honestly surprised” by the result. 

“But now that I feel calmer, I’m just happy,” Tsuneyama said. “I never expected to have gone this far but as I continued to win my matches, I could see that I have a chance. I don’t want to stop here, I want to do well in Bali.”

The BWF World Tour has two stops in Bali this month, the Indonesia Masters (November 16-21) and Indonesia Open (November 23-28).

Author: Ed Odeven

Follow Ed on JAPAN Forward’s [Japan Sports Notebook] here on Sundays, in [Odds and Evens] here during the week, and Twitter @ed_odeven.

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